Sally Illingworth – Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar
What started out as an after-school job at a pizza shop became a management role in the company’s national headquarters – within just 18 months.
Less than a year later, Sally Illingworth became the Northern Territory franchisee of Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar and just six months into trading, the 19-year-old has her eyes firmly set on her next goal.
For Sally, age is just a number. She says her achievements are the result of hard work, not chance. And she’s encouraging everyone, young and old, to put their age aside and reach for the stars…
Sally Illingworth left Darwin for Sydney in 2011 to complete her highschool education. Not four years later she returned home with her highschool diploma, her own business, and three years’ experience in franchising and brand management.
After rising through the ranks of the Crust Gourmet Pizza brand in Sydney and the Gold Coast, she was offered an opportunity to drive the franchise’s entry into the Northern Territory. And while others might, Sally never considered her age to be a barrier.
“I chose to take on the opportunity for self-motivation, to prove to myself I can achieve whatever I set my mind to. In addition to this, the opportunity provided me with the privilege of being able to take the lifestyle I have grown to love, home to my family.
“If you know you are capable, and you have dedicated three years of your teenage life to learning and understanding how to conduct that operation, why would you not take the opportunity to back yourself and take on the risk?”
Born in Western Australia, Sally moved to Darwin with her family in 2003 and completed most of her schooling in the Territory before her move to Sydney.
It was there she applied for an after-school job with Crust in March of 2012, and just four months later also took on a management position with one of the brand’s corporate sites.
In September 2013, four days after completing her highschool certificate, Sally relocated to the Gold Coast to accept the role of Corporate Area Manager at Crust’s Head Office. She maintained the position when she returned to Sydney to become a multi-site manager in February 2014, and in August made the move back to Darwin ahead of opening the Territory’s first Crust store in November.
After extensive training at a franchisee, corporate and franchisor level over three years, Sally developed a comprehensive understanding of the brand’s vision and principles.
“I was privileged to have worked alongside key personnel whom enabled me to further my knowledge of not only the Crust Brand System but franchising, the quick service restaurant industry and hospitality.
“Through my extensive research and applying methods and procedures taught by representatives from within the brand, I developed a comprehensive understanding of business practices and the key factors to operating a successful business.”
Despite her obvious success, Sally has been challenged by perceptions of her ability based on her age. But it’s a challenge that makes her work smarter and harder, proving to herself, and her naysayers, she’s capable of achieving anything she sets her mind to.
“I used degrading remarks about my age to motivate me to prove to everyone that age is quite frankly, just a number and you should not allow your age, or what others may stereotypically assume about your age, to deter you from conquering your goals.”
And while achieving all of this before the age of 20 might be rare, Sally urges it’s far from impossible. And her advice isn’t limited to the young.
“Opportunities are provided to people every minute of every day, whether they’re 19 or 51, but in order to be successful it is up to you to create an opportunity for yourself from that opportunity.
“When I decide I want to achieve something or explore an idea, I do it even if the odds are against me. Of course, I analyse each and every situation and determine a projected return on investment, but I always find a way. I always tell myself that ‘failing is never an option’.
“To be successful, whether it be emotionally or financially, you must be confident and trust yourself.”
Above all, Sally believes success goes beyond profits. She says waking up and looking forward to your day is a good sign you’re on the right track. And she’s grateful to be doing that back at home in Darwin.
“I enjoy enjoying myself with everything I do. Whether it be studying the launch of Crust’s new menu, reading about a new cafe in Sydney, buying a coffee from the corner shop or even paying invoices; I enjoy myself.
“Darwin is a great place. There are so many opportunities available here and so many untapped markets it is crazily incredible. It’s an exciting city and people like myself are privileged to be able to assist in the development and growth of Darwin as a capital city.”