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Just a boy from Moonee Ponds

Andrew Morello, Head of Business Development at Yellow Brick Road, speaks to Cassandra De Palma about his rise to success after his time on The Apprentice 2009.


Andrew Morello. Image: Supplied. 

“I’m not afraid of failing, I’m afraid of not trying.”

Dedicated, motivating, humble and lively are just a few words to describe the 27-year-old as he discussed aspects of life, work and his great success.

Prior to his professional exposure, Morello claimed his strong ethic derived from watching his father, a mechanic, who worked seven days a week running a small business.

“When I was a kid, I used to work at my Dad’s petrol station for $5 a day. He taught me that if I wanted something, I’d have to work for it.”

Morello’s time at his father’s business taught him the fundamentals of customer service, personalisation and empathy — key foundations that have significantly impacted his success as a businessman today.

Between the ages of 14 and 19, Morello continued to conduct business by arranging and directing underage events.

“I remember holding a shoebox full of 5, 10 and twenty dollar notes after an underage event, showing one of my friends. He said ‘to me you look like a drug dealer.’ The first thing I said back was I’m not a drug dealer, I’m a nightclub proprietor.

“At that moment, I had my epiphany,” he said.

While attending St. Bernard’s College, Morello believed that he didn’t fulfil the criteria to be successful in sport, nor the acumen to be an academic, but claimed himself as a ‘bloke’s bloke’ who established at a young age that business was his calling.

“I knew that if someone gave me a dollar, I could turn it into ten, and if someone gave me ten, I could turn it into 100. That was my gift.”

Around 19 years of age, Morello left his days of promotion and event management and engaged himself in the real estate industry.

Initially distancing himself from the family business, he worked for Compton Green Real Estate in Williamstown as an auctioneer then gradually joined his brother John at Thomson Real Estate. 

As he evidently enjoyed his work as an auctioneer, it was also a demanding workload. However, it was at this point that he proceeded to register for first season of The Apprentice in 2009.

“I saw myself as a businessman, I didn’t see myself as a person who came to the same office every day and doing the same thing.”

Morello used his opportunity on The Apprentice to determine his capabilities as a successful businessman. After making it into the top 12 — while he didn’t think he would win — he knew he would do well.

He said that while his experience on the show was generally good, yet difficult in terms of workload, the countless stressful situations provided him an opportunity to shine.

To everyone’s surprise, Morello claimed that the best part of his time on the show was shockingly, not winning. It was the semi-final, where he was asked to reason why he should be declared winner of the Apprentice.

He described it as an experience that “put it all into perspective”.

“I didn’t prepare anything. I spoke from the heart,” he said.

Morello told mentor Mark Bouris that while he didn’t have any official degrees, university experience or participation in the board room, he knew what was important to people and understood that by helping people achieve what they want to achieve, it will encourage them to come back to you.

He stated that the following moment almost “brought him to tears.”

In response to his justification, Bouris said “Morello, you have your degree, you have your masters, you have your PhD and your doctorate. You learnt these things from the backstreets of Moonee Ponds.”

After winning the The Apprentice in 2009, he landed his current position as Head of Business Development at Yellow Brick Road, a full service wealth management company where Mark Bouris is the executive chairman.

While Morello now too works seven days a week with an unimaginable daily schedule, he said that he is able to create time for “R and R” by turning his job, business and career into his lifestyle, creating an element of enjoyment.

“My aim is to make lots of money to pay people really well, to do things I don’t want to do, so I can do things with the people I love.”

As his current career has provided him great experience and pleasure, Morello says that the constant flying, aside from affecting health, has created some difficulty in being away from his family.

“Travel is tough on the body and life in general, but I’m the luckiest guy in the world… If I was still the boy from Moonee Ponds, I’d never have the chance to see these amazing things.”

Amongst this, Morello said that his Mother, a homemaker, also had a huge influence on his thrive for success, as she had been a huge support on his career from the beginning.

“Without her support, my siblings and I wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Aside from his deep respect and love for his family, Morello also believes that by being successful, it is important to give back by taking part in charity work and fundraisers.

“Money is an opportunity for freedom… it enhances people for better or for worse.” he said.

Morello claimed that two charities of great personal significance were the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF), whom affected a close friend and the A Start in Life Charity where he funds for an Australian boy to fulfil his talent of skateboarding.

In the future, Morello plans to remain a part of Yellow Brick Road and work abroad, specifically in America where he aims to fulfil his main focus of corporate speaking. While he endeavours to cut down on his ‘full-on’ workload, Morello aspires to have a wife and children of his own and to maintain his involvement as director of his jewellery company, Bellagio & co. 

Shown by his great motivation, passion for business and admirable work ethic, it is evident that this young businessman is destined for great opportunities and overall, great success.

Cassandra De Palma is a first-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter: @cass_depalma


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