Suman Vasantham is a shining example of what a migrant can achieve and contribute to Australia if they are ‘prepared to work hard, and be a little bit smart.’
Hailing from a town named Tenali in India’s South, Suman arrived in Australia in 2003 on a Student visa secured by Migration Solutions after being accepted into a Masters of Biotechnology at Flinders University. For four years whilst completing his studies, Suman worked the maximum 20 hours per week allowed under his Student visa restrictions at his uncle’s Indian restaurant to pay for his education fees, starting out as a kitchenhand, and eventually working his way onto the pans during quiet periods.
After graduating his course and attaining permanent residency through the general skilled migration program, again with the help of Migration Solutions, Suman was hired by a large pharmaceutical company, but refused to let go of his job at the restaurant in the evenings.
‘I was putting in 12-14 hour days in the beginning, which was quite challenging at the time,’ he said.
‘I would leave work at 4 and start at the restaurant at 5, so I didn’t have much time off.’
However, unable to deny his true passion for cooking, in 2011 Suman decided to leave his comfortable job at the pharmaceutical company in order to pursue his dream of starting his own Indian restaurant.
‘I felt like there was no challenge working there, it was all very straightforward to me’ he said.
‘I thought as I’m good at cooking… I had better open a restaurant. I had 7-8 years of experience in Australia, and 2-3 years in India, so I thought why not?’
Success for British Raj
The career change proved to be an inspired decision. Gradually news of Suman’s delicious authentic Indian dishes began to spread, and soon his restaurant, British Raj, was booked out on a nightly basis.
The restaurant’s popularity even managed reach the ears of the Indian national cricket team whilst on tour in Australia. Blown away from the first taste, they arranged for Suman to supply meals directly to their hotel whenever they were staying in Adelaide, occasionally making it in to the restaurant where their schedule permitted.
‘It was a great honour for me,’ he says humbly, recalling the visits of his sporting heroes whilst looking around at the array of Indian cricket memorabilia he has displayed around the restaurant.
‘I couldn’t believe I had the chance to meet Tendulkar, never in India would I have had that chance. You can’t even see his shadow in India,’ he jokes.
Living in Australia
After 10 years of living in Australia, Suman has experienced nearly every aspect of the migration program.
Having applied for and secured a number of Australian visas, including a Student, Skilled – Independent Regional (SIR) and Permanent Residency visa, as well as a marriage visa for his wife, and a number of employer-sponsored visas for staff at his restaurant, he is full of praise for both the city he now calls home, and the company that made it all happen.
‘Adelaide is the best place for me and my family, because it’s nice and calm, there are no hassles, and the cost of living is much lower than other cities,’ he said.
‘Mark and everyone at Migration Solutions have helped me a lot. I’ve referred so many people there and they’re all very happy.
‘The processing times are always fast, and everyone has been very happy with their service.
‘We all have very healthy lifestyles here in Australia.’
Having recently opened a second restaurant in the city, and with plans for a third in the pipeline, business is going from strength-to-strength for Suman. And he says the same can be true for any migrant that is prepared to work hard and be patient.
‘Anybody can come here. Australians support everybody,’ he said.
‘It’s a slow process, but if you stick to the basics and work your way up, you will be successful.’