Bianca Dawson, Sand Hill Road CEO

Melbourne-based pub group Sand Hill Road has announced the appointment of Bianca Dawson as its new CEO. 

Dawson was previously the company’s Chief Operating Officer, appointed in 2020 when Dan Viney stepped down as CEO, when she become part of a dual leadership team with CFO Matthew Rogers. 

As COO, Dawson was responsible for overseeing and evaluating performance, designing and implementing business strategies, setting goals, and driving the company’s values, culture and growth.

Dawson told Australian Hotelier that her new role would see her responsibilities expand to include strategy and growth as the business recovers from the last couple of years.  

“For so long we’ve been literally taking every day as it comes, and now it’s about switching up our mindset to move from constant concern about the next restriction or density quotient.

“It’s now business as usual and we have a big job ahead to bring us back to where we were.”

Strategies for growth for the group include moving into new territory with more formal pub dining spaces featuring “brands within brands” as it did with Mya Tiger, a Cantonese restaurant located within The Esplanade Hotel and Italian restaurant, Tippy-Tay at the Garden State Hotel.

The group is also moving into retail with the launch of ‘The Espy’ branded batched signature cocktails, starting with negroni. Sand Hill Road has partnered with a distiller and a distributor on its launch into boutique bottleshops.

Sand Hill Road negroni

Dawson said staffing topped the group’s main challenges over the next two years. “As an industry, we have a challenge ahead of us in terms of how we position hospitality as an industry so we can attract back those who left, and attract up and coming talent.”

Dawson is well-credentialed in this area, having joined Sand Hill Road in 2017 as Group People & Culture Manager, a role that involved the development of people through training, mentoring and wellbeing.

She also managed the recruitment, induction and training of a 300-strong Espy opening team, and led the team in devising compelling recruitment strategies incorporating personality profiling with the objective of hiring on value alignment.

Prior to joining Sand Hill Road, Dawson was for several years was the director of Veludo, one of St Kilda’s most well-known live music venues.

“Bianca’s ascension is one of the greatest highlights of our 22 years in hospitality,” Sand Hill Road director Andy Mullins said. “She’s a driven, progressive, empathetic and hands-on leader who we put all our trust in.

“Born and raised in hospitality, Bianca has a unique understanding of the highs and lows of our dynamic industry. We cannot think of a stronger leader to guide us into the next chapter.”

Dawson said she was “absolutely thrilled and honoured to have been given the opportunity to be at the helm of the company I have loved so much for the past five years”.

“I am grateful every day to work with supremely talented and dedicated hospitality professionals and know together we can push this industry to its unlimited potential.”

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