Founder and Managing Director, CoastXP
Dominic May is passionate about tourism and everything to do with the ocean, so CoastXP – a brand-new adventure boat experience in Newcastle – makes perfect sense for him. He hopes his position as Founder and Managing Director of the organisation will help him make a meaningful contribution to the destination image of Newcastle and the Hunter.
Dom’s interest in the marine environment has led him to work in some of Australia’s most scenic coastal locations including Heron Island, North Stradbroke Island, Coffs Harbour, Lord Howe Island, Port Stephens, Sydney and now Newcastle, where he calls home.
- What career path led you to where you are now?
I have a background as a scuba diving instructor and a commercial skipper of commercial vessels. And that’s sort of taken me everywhere from the Great Barrier Reef right down along the east coast of Australia to Sydney Harbour. There are many different places in between: Lord Howe Island, North Stradbroke Island, Coffs Harbour, Port Stephens and, like I said, Sydney and Heron Island as well.
I absolutely love working on the water and I love working with people, so some of those experiences through diving or driving boats, has led me to what I’m doing now and to starting my own business.
- What motivates and drives you?
There are many things that motivate and drive me, but in particular working with people. I worked that out a number of years ago now, that I love working with new and interesting people every single day. I don’t like being too far removed from the work that I’m doing. So in starting CoastXP, it allowed me to work with new and interesting people every single day. I’ve met people from lots of different backgrounds, whether they be visitors or locals. And I’m able to understand what brings them to Newcastle or why they love living in Newcastle, and I get to share the great city that we have with them through CoastXP.
Essentially working directly with people allows me to maintain my goals. I have worked in different jobs where I never actually got to meet the end-person that I’m doing the work for, and I felt like there was an empty space or something missing in those scenarios.
But CoastXP is a great way of meeting new people. And that’s why I really enjoy it.
- What has been your biggest learning curve in your career?
There have been a lot of big learning curves throughout my career; the short-lived career that it has been. So I’d like to say to people “wait until you get to my age”, because that’s when life starts catching up with you.
The biggest learning curve has to be starting my own business. That’s challenging for anyone and each business comes with its different set of challenges. For me, it’s an outdoor activity and that comes with its own inherent challenges, mostly being the weather. We’ve got to contend with the rain, swell, wind and fog even. So dealing with those sorts of things is quite tricky, especially if people are on short timeframes. So dealing with people, being able to explain what the weather patterns are doing, and how that obviously plays a big role in what I do – running tours along Newcastle and Lake Macquarie coastline.
But so far, we’ve had a fantastic whale watching season since I started in June; everyone loves to see whales up close. And I suppose going now into summer those challenges will be different. It’s a little bit more consistent going into summer. You know when it’s going to rain, you know when it’s going to be windy and so on. Wind does fluctuate up and down like a yo-yo, so just trying to balance those sorts of things along with all the other challenges that come along with starting a business.
- Where would you like to be in 10 years?
I like to think that I’d be doing a similar type of work to what I’m doing now. It’s a long-term commitment for me, starting my own business, and I really, really enjoy it. So I’d like to see myself still running tours along the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie coastline. I’d like them to be different each year and new and interesting in different ways. But I have a big grand goal: I want to contribute to the local visitor economy in whatever way I can, and that is through promoting the region that we live in.
I’d like to be able to capture great content with photos and videos of the area and share that with people through running tours as well. If people can possibly catch a photo, a video online of what I do, and the style of work, they can then come out on tour and see what it’s like themselves. Once they’re onboard, it’s normally pretty easy for them to see why I love doing what I do.
But in 10 years’ time I’d like to continue what I’m doing, hopefully build on what I’ve started, because it’s really just at the beginning and I’m only five months in.
- Have you had any significant Hunter-based mentors during your career who inspired you?
Yes, I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of local mentors, and not just within Newcastle but within the entire region as well as some even outside of the region. All of which I like to speak to about the challenges and things that I’m facing on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. But I’ve had mentors who have helped me from whether it’d be tourism-related mentors or marketing, legal or accounting. There has been plenty of people that I’ve met along the way as well through my university studies at the University of Newcastle, who have really helped in sort of bringing the business that I’ve dreamt about and worked hard for to life. There have been a huge number of mentors who have made up that journey along the way.