Business | SUNBIZ

Meet Down Under Night Club Boss

Caroline Wainiqolo Cooke never dreamt that she would be running a business one day.
23 Jul 2022 17:53
Meet Down Under Night Club Boss
Caroline Wainiqolo Cooke with her brother Donald Wainiqolo at the Down Under Pub. Photo: Laisa Lui

Caroline Wainiqolo Cooke never dreamt that she would be running a business one day.

It was her dream to become a flight attendant.

Being independent led her to work part time while she was still schooling at the age of 17.

She loved her childhood even with her parents separated. It only made her stronger.

She is married to Chris Cooke, the owner of Down Under night club. The couple are thankful to the Government for its efforts to relax restrictions and open our border to get things back to normal. It allowed businesses like theirs to recover from the two years lockdown.

The couple has a great team who have also contributed to the success of their business. One of them is Ms Cooke’s elder brother, Donald Wainiqolo, who manages the nightclub.

Tell us about your educa­tional background?

Attended school in Tahiti and came back at Saint Joseph Secondary School before com­pleting a certificate in Business studies at the Fiji National Uni­versity.

Can you tell us about your experience in your role?

Over the years I have built my confidence.

And if you could also share with us your experiences before you joined your current position/ business?

I used to work at a coffee shop while I was study­ing before applying as a Bartender at Down Under when I was 19. I have been with the business since and have learnt a lot in the run­ning of a business.

How do you manage the demands of profes­sional and personal commitments?

I ensure that I spend am­ple time with my children.

Did your family back­ground or where you grew up have an influ­ence on your career choices?

No. I was very independ­ent at a very young age. It was my husband who be­came my mentor that moti­vated me to give everything I got on what I am good at.

What are some of the challenges faced by the club?

We wasted about $350,000 the first time we set up the club because we had the wrong people doing the job. And it took us some time to build and expand. For seven years everything was back into the business.

Apart from that, we en­counter breakages that require a full time carpen­ter for daily maintenance works so it is a safe venue for people to enjoy them­selves.

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

When customers come in and have a good time and enjoy themselves, this impression makes them come back.

What is your philoso­phy about business as a whole and your vision for your organisation?

Businesses are all the same, and have the same principles.

What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?

Becoming a successful business after a lot of years of sacrifice. Being able to expand with a sports bar and a lounge.

Have you been inspired or influenced by any­one in particular?

We support each other as we are heading in the same direction.

How would you de­scribe yourself as a leader?

We give bonuses to our workers when we see them go the extra mile. We make them take ownership of their work and ensure they are well groomed with their customer service. We treat them to a barbeque and get together before the busy days. Through this we have workers that have stayed with us for more than a decade. They have been loyal to their work and always turn up for work.

What impact has COV­ID-19 pandemic had on your professional and personal life?

The COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone across the border including club owners such as ourselves. I stayed in Suva for six months while my hus­band and children stayed at home in Pacific Har­bour and we would meet in Wainadoi to exchange goods.

On a Lighter Note:

Describe a typical day

I would rake our compound or do some gardening in the morning, then prepare my children for school before coming to work. In the afternoon I pick up the kids from school and spend time with them and prepare dinner.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love gardening and spending time with my children outdoors.

When at home, what do you like to eat?

Home cooked meals for my family, they love lamb curry.

Favourite dish to cook for guests?

I love cooking, making BBQ

MOTTO IN LIFE?

Love your job, if not you’re not going to be good at it.

Feedback: laisa.lui@fijisun.com.fj



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