My Way: David Peto of Unit gives his tips for success at work

'You must be positive not arrogant'
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The Independent Online

David Peto is the managing director of Unit, the Soho post-production company whose clients include Virgin, Sony, the BBC and CNN

What did you want to be as a child?

An actor. At seven I was the wizard in The Wizard of Oz. I was small and geeky and no one ever paid attention to me, but when I walked on stage they did.

What did you realistically think you'd end up doing?

An actor, which I was for a while. But my other passion was computers and after A-levels I applied for IBM's pre-university management scheme. It was perfect and my first proper job.

You then went to the University of Warwick to study politics – why?

Politics was only six hours a week and I wanted to be on stage the rest of the time! Also, it was an opinion-based degree, so I could use my debating skills, and Warwick had good links with business.

How did you get into production?

After university I went to drama school. I started my own production company, and then shifted into film. I joined forces with an old schoolfriend who had a production company and we spotted a gap in the market. We were using Apple equipment but we couldn't find a big enough company to finish it in high definition; we saw the potential of an editing facility with Apple equipment.

How did you set up on your own?

We put together a very detailed business plan and took it to private equity. But people still said we were nuts because we were going into an industry with incredibly expensive equipment. A competitor even gatecrashed our opening party and told me I didn't have a hope.

Do you consider yourself successful?

Yes, we're now the world's largest Apple-based finishing facility. We started with a staff of six; I've just hired the 30th.

What are your interview tips?

Research the company and be careful about your aspirations. If you're a graduate going for a junior role, be positive but not arrogant. Understand you will have to learn, and that takes time.

And your CV tips?

Demonstrate an attention to detail: if you make a spelling mistake that means you don't care enough to spell-check it. And I can't stand the over-use of Microsoft Word templates!

What motivates you?

I don't want to say money, because that sounds callous, but it's a part of it. I also like leading a company and seeing it grow.

H ow do I get to be where you are?

Definitely go to university – it helps you in a high-pressure environment – and take every single opportunity that is thrown at you. This industry is all about whom you know, so make tea for the film crew down the road, do everything you can. It's not a traditional industry – there is no specific course that prepares you for it – and you need dedication and passion.

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