Dawys Estevez started his career at Convene as a part-time service technician back in 2013. Though he enjoyed his work, he knew that he wanted his role at the company to grow into something more than where he started. With a wife and two young children at home, he wanted to make a career for himself.
In those last five years, Estevez has received multiple promotions, moving up to a service manager position and most recently, a general manager position with Convene, running a property at 101 Park Avenue.
Estevez sat down with Catalyst to discuss his career journey and impart some advice for those wishing to follow his example and pursue long-term careers at Convene.
Andrew Littlefield: How did you get started at Convene?
Dawys Estevez: I had an opportunity with somebody that referred me to Convene. At the time, there were only two properties with a third on the way. I started as a part-time service technician.
From the very beginning, I had a goal in mind which was to create a career for myself at Convene. I knew the company was expanding. I saw the vision and the mission of (co-founders) Ryan and Chris. I had a great opportunity to be part of something big.
Early on, I made sure my manager knew that I wanted to grow with the company. First, I went full-time at 101 Park Avenue when that property opened in 2014.
At the time, there was a gap in the path from full-time service technician to a management role. The best solution was creating a new position, service supervisor. And I’m honored to say that I was the first person to fulfill that role at Convene, leading a staff of about ten service technicians.
I wanted to learn more about the administration portion of the business—I’m a big number guy. I got the opportunity to do that when I transferred to 32 Old Slip as a service supervisor in 2016. Since then, I was promoted to service manager at 237 Park Avenue, and just recently I was promoted to general manager of 101 Park Avenue.
AL: Who was the first person you talked to about making a career at Convene?
DE: Kevin Huang, who was the general manager of 101 Park Avenue at the time. From the very beginning, he saw the potential that I had. He approached me and said, “Hey, you’ve got great qualities. What is your next step? What is it that you want to do?” Managers have regular ones-on-one meetings with staff, just to make sure where we’re happy and growing, and give us the tools to grow.
From there, he was just guiding me through the process. He opened the door. He allowed me to be me—allowed me to learn from my mistakes, whenever I was going a little bit to the left, he just redirected me to the right path.
Kathy Tran was the general manager when I first transferred to 101 Park Avenue as a full timer, and she inspired me to work harder every day. She would help with dishes, food prep, and room setups. That’s determination from a leader you don’t see every day.
Desirée Petruzzelli, my general manager here at 237 Park Avenue has also been instrumental in my growth. I’m blessed to have her in that position because she guided me through the process. All my conversations with her have been very transparent and clear. She’s the one that’s been helping me as I strived to earn the general manager position.
And I have to mention Alex Adelman as well, who was the GM at 237 Park Avenue before Desirée. He was the one who first started preparing me for the financial work involved with being a GM.
AL: What would you say is the biggest lessons you’ve learned in the last five years?
DE: Learning how to manage different personalities. I think that’s the most challenging part of the job. Everybody thinks in a different way.
AL: As a general manager, I imagine you’re going to have a lot of opportunities to do what Kevin Huang did for you. What’s it feel like to be able to give other people a chance at a career?
DE: From the moment that I started to move up, I wanted to open doors for the people coming right behind me. This is the reason why I push every single day because I want to show the company, myself, and the people on my team what’s possible.
AL: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
DE: I want to handle bigger responsibility, bigger scale. Right now, I want to focus on learning and keep developing my skills as a general manager, and then the next step will be to take a challenge while in a bigger property where we have both Meetings and WorkPlace facilities. And after that, area director of operations.
AL: What does being at Convene mean to you?
DE: It’s how we make people feel right at home. From day one, every employee that works here, I think we do a great job as a company making them feel that they belong right here.
Secondly, you create your own story. You create your own path. You create your own opportunities. It’s up to you to decide where you want to go, we have everything that we need to succeed.
One of the best pieces of career advice I ever received came from our CEO, Ryan Simonetti. He said, “Don’t wait for opportunity. You create your own opportunity.” And that’s what I’ve been doing.