Future wide open for rising Cairns star
18-year-old Dmitri Ahwang from Cairns never expected to land a career in banking. But through the support of Suncorp and the Clontarf Foundation, he’s found his future is wide open to possibilities.
“I didn’t expect to find myself here. And at first it was a massive learning curve. But it’s also really opened my eyes – I’ve surprised myself!”
One year ago, 18-year-old Dmitri Ahwang had no idea he would be working as a sales and service consultant in Suncorp’s Cairns store.
A talented rugby league player with dreams of reaching the National Rugby League, the banking industry wasn’t something he had considered pursuing after school.
But during his time at Trinity Bay High School, he had the opportunity to work with the Clontarf Foundation, one of Suncorp’s community partners that works to improve the education, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.
Through his contacts at Clontarf and Suncorp, Dmitri saw the wide range of career opportunities available to him, and he was able to secure his first job with Suncorp upon graduation.
I genuinely enjoy interacting with people, and this role has given me the opportunity to do that every day. They were able to find me a role that would fit me, even though it’s not something I would have thought of for myself. It’s given me another path to consider.Dmitri Ahwang, Suncorp Sales and Service Consultant
“When the opportunity to work at Suncorp came up, it was such a blessing,” Dmitri said.
“It’s allowed me to still pursue football, but it’s also given me another path to consider. There is life after footy.
“Now, I look at my team leader, Nick, and the way he leads our team. It makes me wonder whether I could do that one day. I could be anything.
“I was really nervous for the interview, thinking: ‘how am I going to get this job?’ The Clontarf Foundation really helped me with my resume and helped me identify which skills I had that would translate to a job.”
One of those skills was acting. With celebrated actor Jimi Bani as a father, Dmitri toured Australia as a teenager performing on stage with his family theatre company.
He was surprised to find that the confidence he got from acting gave him the perfect skillset to work with customers.
“I genuinely enjoy interacting with people, and this role has given me the opportunity to do that every day.
“Sometimes I take too long with the customers, because I like to talk.
“That’s one of the great things about Clontarf – they knew that about me and were able to find me a role that would fit me, even though it’s not something I would have thought of for myself.”
Suncorp Cairns Store Leader Nick Ranson said Dmitri had been a great asset to the team.
“What he brings to the team more than anything is his energy,” Nick said.
“I hear feedback from customers all the time that they enjoy their interactions with Dmitri, and that he genuinely wants to hear their stories.
“His football leadership has also translated really well into being a great team player.
“We knew he had the skills we were looking for; we just had to help him see it too.”
Now, Dmitri is sharing his new-found knowledge with others.
“I have a large family and a lot of friends in the Torres Strait Islander community, and they all come into the store now to see me,” Dmitri said.
“I think previously they were a bit nervous to come in, but they feel comfortable now coming in just for a chat when they see me at the desk.
“I also recently went back to my high school and gave a presentation to the year nines on financial literacy.
“It was great getting to see my teachers again, but also weird being the one at the front of the classroom.
“It’s been challenging but being part of a team has made it easier. I’m taking it one step at a time.”