…Cultural diversity enriches the organization, but it becomes a huge challenge to reach consensus. Many times we believe that just because we may speak the same language we are communicating the same message. However, people have different cultural idiosyncrasies.
Matias Pesce is the CEO and the driving force behind international culinary group V&E Restaurant Group. Matias has more than 20 years of global executive experience, leading and managing multicultural teams throughout Latin America and the United States. Under his leadership, V&E Restaurant Group has made a mark on the restaurant industry by enhancing international cuisine in the United States.
V&E Restaurant Group operates several successful restaurants in the United States within a range of cuisines. The group is a culinary industry pioneer behind some of the most recognized and finest restaurants. The brand shows a lifestyle concept that blends gastronomy, mixology, entertainment and ambiance into each restaurant location. Restaurants in Miami, Florida, include Havana 1957, Tapas y Tintos, Oh! Mexico, Mercato della Pescheria, La Cerveceria de Barrio and Barsecco. V&E restaurant group also operates a variety of restaurants in Las Vegas, in The Venetian and Caesar’s Palace hotels, including Cafe Americano and Mercato della Pescheria.
Thank you so much for joining us Matias! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I started my career at only 18 years old when I started working at PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the best professional services firm in the world, as a Financial Auditor for international world-class companies. A few years later, I joined Pride International Group, one of the largest global petroleum services company, first as Internal Audit Manager to be responsible for all the operations in Latin America, and then, as a Chief Financial Officer for Colombia and Ecuador operations. Later in my career, I became their Corporate Chief Accounting Officer.
In 2009, I left the company looking for new challenges, so that I started to work in Pan American Energy (British Petroleum Group), one of the major exploration and production companies of oil and gas in Latin America. Being an executive there, allowed me to work side by side and learn from some of the most influential and experienced executives in the world. During that time, I obtained my MBA degree.
In 2018, I felt the need to expand my knowledge and open myself to a completely different business, so I packed all my experiences and moved to the United States. Once there, I earned my MS in Finance and joined V&E Restaurant Group as CEO, where I joined a team of talented professionals from different disciplines (chefs, accountants, engineers, artists, cooks, servers, marketers, etc.) all highly focused on its core business: excellence of service, quality of food and beverage, unique recipes, and creating the perfect ambience at each restaurant.
Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
One of the biggest challenges I encountered was that after more than 20 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, I decided to get out of my “comfort zone” and completely change my career path in order to enrich my business knowledge. I did that by joining the food and beverage industry, a business totally different from the one I had been working in, but certainly one which is more creative, fun and dynamic, and where we can directly and immediately observe the satisfaction of our clients and the result of our work.
Facing that challenge was certainly an excellent and enriching experience in which I had to demonstrate not only my professional ability and knowledge as a business leader, but also show the tenacity in my decisions to follow our mission.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
There are several factors that I believe led us to be successful. First of all, the talent of my team and everyone working together towards a common goal, which is fundamental. Another important factor was knowing how to overcome obstacles without getting frustrated or losing our mission, and learning from every inconvenience and mistake. Capacity, adaptation and creativity were also key to our success. It is necessary to be dynamic and continuously evolve as there is always something to be learned. Our success also wouldn’t have been possible without discipline, perseverance and critical thinking.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
- That it would be necessary to always have mediation and negotiation strategies in place to maintain peace and harmony in board meetings. It is very difficult to reach an agreement between stakeholders in 15 minutes.
- Shortcuts may look attractive but they always have a costly impact on business and oftentimes divert you from your initial goal.
- That it is more difficult to change the mindset of people than to implement new processes. Dealing with people’s feelings can be an arduous task.
- That cultural diversity enriches the organization, but it becomes a huge challenge to reach consensus. We believe that just because we may speak the same language we are communicating the same message. However, people have different cultural idiosyncrasies.
- That you will feel like you never have enough time to thoroughly evaluate every decision you make. Creativity is often affected by the need for immediacy and one becomes a virtual “fireman” responding to critical situations at once.
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
- The best recommendation I could give a colleague is to always try to maintain a healthy work and life balance. Sitting on the floor and playing with my children after a long work day helps me to take the necessary distance from the problems of everyday life, allowing me to have a better perspective to make the right decisions at work.
- Another tip is to understand that ultimately “it’s only business” and that everything has a solution and that everything is never so definitive or so bad. I always try to keep in mind the alternative paths to an adversity, keeping in mind different solutions to every situation.
- Take a moment to enjoy the world around you. I recommend practicing outdoor sports. It not only helps you release endorphins but also alleviate daily stress.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?al Can you share a story?
I really have many people I am grateful for and who have helped me to reach the place where I am today. Many have inspired me on this path and have given me a boost to achieve my dreams, but without a doubt the person who has been and will be my greatest mentor is my father. He was an Italian immigrant who had to move to Argentina at the end of World War II and there he became a successful businessman. Not only did he teach me how to be responsible, tireless, passionate and how to always search for new challenges, but also instilled in me values that are my greatest pride as a person today.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
Personally, my daily goal is to be a good father, guiding my children to be good people and encouraging them to fulfill their dreams by never giving up. In the professional realm, my main goal, in which I work hard, is to strengthen the team I lead and help grow the company within the gastronomy and entertainment industries to become one of the biggest players nationwide.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
I believe that my best legacy would be to be recognized and remembered as an integral, honest and professional person who never let himself be overcome in the face of adversity and was never afraid to fight for his convictions.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
A dream that I have always had is to start a free Japanese martial arts school for children without resources. After being a part of Argentina’s national team of judo and winning several championships in Argentinian, Pan-American and other international judo tournaments, without a doubt judo has been a transcendental factor that transformed my life. It taught me how to exercise balance in my life, discipline, perseverance and tenacity. The values I learned were invaluable teachings for the rest of life, both personally and professionally, and ones I still use to enhance the lives of others. I would consider it very gratifying to transmit my knowledge and experience to kids, but essentially very enriching for their lives as these values can be used not only for sports but for any circumstance or adversity that touches them in their lives.
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