Interviews

Peter Sereno, Founder of The Pageant Institute

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I'm an Australian-based creative, Model and Coach with big dreams of helping aspiring Models make their way into the industry and thrive. I'm obsessed with: integrity, authenticity, a tidy home, smashed avocado, and being the person I needed when I was younger.

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Peter Sereno is Australia’s first pageant and runway coach and Founder of The Pageant Institute. Here he shares the highs and lows with the fashion and beauty queens he’s mentored to success.

Personal

1. We know you by: 

Peter Sereno, Australia’s first professional pageant coach and the first Filipino Australian to produce a Miss Universe and Miss Grand International

2. Tell me about yourself: 

Born in the Philippines, my family migrated to Australia in the late 80s. We were your classic migrant family story – we worked hard to carve our place in our new home. I was the first in our family to have a university degree in Australia and I had a successful career in Public Relations working on global accounts such as Western Union, South African Airways and Durex Condoms. I then fell into the world of travel and represented destinations such as Samoa and The Maldives. My interest in pageants never died even in a county like Australia where pageants were practically a non-event, but I knew in my heart that one of my paths in life was to contribute to its growth in my new home. 

3. When was your big break?

My first big break was that momentous occasion Australia was announced as the new Miss Universe in 2004. 

4. Tell me the story about how you found and became involved with the world of pageants?

I have always had a passion for pageants and while in University, the Internet was just starting to really explode. I found my community online and developed contacts around the world that I still have today. These fans from the early days of the Internet are now Pageant Directors, Coaches and Commentators and we pioneered the pageant online community. Back then I wrote op-Ed pieces and pageant fashion reviews for a few pageant websites and I was discovered by the owners of the Miss Universe Australia franchise through that, where they asked me to provide tips for their representative in 2003. We continued this in 2004 where I provided guidance to Jennifer Hawkins who subsequently became Miss Universe that year. It happened a day or so before my birthday and I have always said that it was the best birthday present I have ever received.

5. What was it about yourself that you transformed the most to be the person you are today?

Identifying self limiting beliefs and pushing through them. By embracing the truth that I too am worthy of the best in life and to be brave enough to break the mould, to ask the universe for help and be open to the opportunities presented. To be at peace with the truth that every day is an opportunity to learn and be better than the day before. To be fearless but to never forget the importance of humility. 

6. Who inspires you the most + why?

This is a difficult one to answer! I consciously surround myself with people who raise my vibration and who inspire me with their stories, their experiences, their achievements, passion and humility. People who I have come to know at a personal level whose lives are dedicated to uplifting those around them truly inspire me.

7. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?

I think I would tell my younger self to be patient; that one day, everything will make sense and that wherever I find myself is where I am meant to be, at that particular moment. I would tell myself to set boundaries and to know that self care is important. 

Business

8. Tell me about The Pageant Institute?

The Pageant Institute is a portal for pageant girls (and boys) to educate themselves about the industry. I develop pageant programs that empower those who enter the industry with the tools to succeed in pageants that they can then apply and use in their lives beyond the pageant stage. It’s not just about looking good and moving well, it’s about developing a winning strategy and outlook. It’s looking at pageants, not just as personal development platforms, but also as a potential business and brand development opportunity – to see it as a platform to help you reach your ultimate goal, whatever it may be. It offers a platform where aspiring pageant girls and boys can learn and be inspired by those who have paved the way for them – the pageant elders! 

9. What does a typical day look like for you:

I usually get up at five to take my dogs for a run on the beach. It’s a great way to start the day regardless of the weather! From 8am until 6pm I work as a recruitment consultant for the world’s leading recruitment company where I recruit for positions for the Government at a State and Federal level. I then go home and conduct my online coaching sessions with my TPI students. During the weekends I do face to face Runway and Pasarela sessions, but when I’m not working on TPI you’ll find me in the garden or at my orchard landscaping and growing fruits and vegetables! 

10. Tips for aspiring pageant queens?

  • Find a pageant brand that aligns with your values. 
  • Do your research and BE the brand. 
  • Engage the services of a pageant coach. 

11. Your clients are:

I am currently working with Miss Grand Australia, Miss Galaxy Australia, and Miss World Australia.

12. What makes you a highly sought after runway + pageant coach?

My ability to work and connect with my students at the deepest level, developing personalised programs that best suit their learning type as well as their personality. I have a knack for identifying one’s ‘Personal Unique Selling Proposition (aka USPs) and bringing it out of them. I have the ability to help my students stand out in a sea of beauties. I also know what each pageant system wants and looks for in a winner. 

13. Your most successful clients all have these traits in common:

Drive, ambition, creativity, focus, humility and trust. My most successful clients trust me and respect the process. 

14. Biggest mistake pageant hopefuls make:

  • Not doing their research on the pageant they are competing in. Not all pageants are the same.
  • Spending more money on wardrobe and accessories and not enough on coaching and PR/ Branding.

 

Just for Fun

15. Favourite fashion brand + why

I don’t have any brand or label loyalty. I’m all for sustainable practices in fashion so as such, I love recycled fashion. I also don’t like people knowing about the brands I wear. These labels have made enough money, if they want me to mention their name, they can pay me for promoting them. 

16. Favourite social media platform + why

I’m a social media migrant myself, but my go to’s are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Of all of them I think my favourite would be…hmmm…at the moment Twitter – the Australians raving and bitching about the latest ‘Married At First Sight’ episodes are EPIC.

17. Favourite food?

I am obsessed with my gluten free buffalo cauliflower wings recipe. 

18. Guilty pleasure?

Watching trash TV like ‘Married At First Sight’ haha. 

19. Can’t live without:

Dogs. 

20. Favourite quote:

“Great relationships start with great conversations.” 

21. Favourite colour:

Peacock blue.

22. Your greatest strength:

Empathy. 

23. Your greatest weakness:

Empathy.

24. Skill you’d like to master:

Effective time management. 

25. You’re stranded on a deserted island and can take 3 things with you:

Naked and Afraid is one of my favourite reality survival shows, so thanks to them, I would take: 

  • A fire starter 
  • A machete
  • Duct tape. You can make ANYTHING out of duct tape!!! 

~~~~~

Thank you for your time Peter!

Further Reading: Check out more inspiring and educational (+ FREE) content from
The Model Masterclass blog here.

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You can find more about ‘The Pageant Institute’ here:

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