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Getting a Job

My Way: Steve Perez gives his tips for success at work

'Fortunes can be made in a recession'

Steve Perez is the founder and owner of Global Brands Limited, the alcoholic drinks company worth £70m.

What did you want to be as a child?

I liked the idea of running a restaurant, probably because my father, who came to Britain from Spain as a waiter, had a restaurant in Chesterfield. Then I wanted to be a pop star.

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

At 16, my father asked about my career. I said I wanted a record shop with a café on top; my mother burst into tears.

Did you go to university?

No, I left school just before my A-levels. I spent most of the time in a band and knew I had no chance of passing. I worked in my father's restaurant as a trainee chef and waiter; the cocktail bar was like being on stage, but the hours were difficult, as I was working for my father who pushed me hard.

How did you set up on your own?

My father died when I was 19. The business was sold, so I was left to stand on my own two feet. I worked for a brewery but couldn't hack it working for a large organisation; I wanted a job with some independence. I borrowed money, bought a van, and went round selling imported beers to pubs, which was quite a new thing then. I talked my suppliers into giving me credit. But in 1993 the law changed in terms of bringing alcohol into the UK and three years later the company folded. I thought: "Oh no, I'm a failed businessman."

How did you start again?

The drinks industry was in turmoil, but for the smaller entrepreneur there are fortunes to be made in a recession. I bought bankrupt stock and sold it and built up some capital, then I had the idea for VK Vodka.

Do you consider yourself successful?

Yeah. My father used to say I was bloody useless and I like to think today he'd be proud of me.

When did you first realise you were successful?

When I could afford to fly business class. I thought, God this is a ridiculous amount of money for a slightly wider seat!

Any regrets?

That I didn't start younger. We don't encourage people to go into business young enough. Not big business; I mean a market stall, or painting and decorating.

What are your interview tips?

Find out about the business and write something personal, even flatter the person a bit. Tell them you drink their product and love it! Arrive on time and ring if you can't. Bring any relevant information with you, such as your CV. Be honest.

And your CV tips?

I always look at the hobbies people have. I'm hiring a person, not a machine.

What motivates you?

I'm very competitive. The money is great, but that's not what drives me.

What's the best perk of your job?

Getting someone else to clean my car!