So, tell us about your move to New Zealand, your career, and what got you to where you are today?
British born, living in London and contemplating an adventure, and six years later I find myself a New Zealand permanent resident and flying the flag for Invivo and the wines and spirits we make with our partners Sarah Jessica Parker and Graham Norton.
I moved to New Zealand despite never visiting the Southern hemisphere before, and I knew just one person – a friend who hired me to head up a PR team in Auckland. The first year was a real mix of emotions and I worked hard to meet new people, make new friendships and progress my career in a new country. I even wrote a series of articles about dating in a new city for one of our national newspapers! A couple of years ago I joined the Invivo team as their global marketing manager.
What made you want to become part of the wine industry?
Before joining Invivo, I worked with consumer brands on creative PR and content marketing, mostly agency side. Over the past eighteen years I have worked with entertainment channels, meal delivery services, retailers, coffee companies and even Royal Jersey potatoes! But I especially enjoyed working with food and drink clients.
It seemed like a natural next step to join the Invivo team who are known around the world for innovative marketing, and immerse myself in all facets of the business. I had worked with Tim and Rob (Invivo co-founders) for a few years in my PR agency role, so I got what Invivo are about and knew that I would be in for some fun experiences with a great team. All the while, joining an industry that would provide ongoing learning and growth opportunities.
What do you love most about your job?
Being part of tight-knit team that works hard together, towards clear shared goals. We have a lot of fun along the way and I’m thankful for the special experiences - like popping in on the end of the new vintage tasting and blending with Sarah Jessica, Tim and Rob to try our Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc!
It’s exciting to see the opportunities for Invivo around the world and drive growth in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Europe and Australia. We are a ‘yes’ company - nimble, constantly evolving and bringing new products and concepts to the market.
To you, what makes the New Zealand wine industry special / unique?
The people! From viticulturalists to cellar door operators, Kiwis are so down to earth and the connections I’ve made with colleagues, connections and even past PR-clients in the New Zealand wine industry have turned into valued friendships.
There has never been a more exciting time for New Zealand wine and Brand New Zealand at the moment, which is a unique position to be in.
What would you like to see more of in the New Zealand wine industry?
Accessibility, approachability and having fun, and not always playing by the rules!
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Working with the complexities of different export markets, but that’s what makes it more rewarding when you see hard earned success in those markets. One of our values is to persevere with something even if it’s very hard - if something is easy then everyone would do it! I remind myself of that on some of the more challenging days and take inspiration from my colleagues Tim and Rob who have built Invivo from the ground up.
Do you think there are gender-specific challenges in winemaking? Do women have a harder time becoming successful/being taken seriously, or is that a thing of the past?
I think it’s evolving and we’re now seeing the active championing and welcoming of passionate young people in wine including women, but will take some time to see the shift through generations. I think perception is key in evolving. Seeing the person, personality and skill, not gender, first.
There are some amazing women in the New Zealand wine industry who are masters of their craft; their hard work and success while challenging traditional stereotypes throughout their careers has helped open doors for the up-and-coming generation of women. Their success offers young people motivation and inspiration.
What is your favourite wine variety?
Since moving to New Zealand I’ve fallen in love with Chardonnay and its versatility, and for me discovering new wine styles and lesser-known regions as my tastes evolve make me excited to keep exploring. But of course, I do think there is a wine for every occasion! I’m equally happy enjoying a glass of our delicious Rosé Prosecco as I am trying emerging styles in New Zealand like Albarino and West Auckland Chardonnay.
What would you say to women considering a career in wine?
Working in wine is fascinating and the wine industry is so complex, but that’s what makes it interesting. You’ll never stop learning!
There are so many careers in wine for young females looking for a long and diverse career from production and operations, to winemaking and viticulture, to consumer and trade marketing.
Choose a company that is renowned for what you want to specialise or grow your skill in, build your network and open your mind! When I first moved to New Zealand from the UK, I never would have thought that six years later I’d be working at Invivo and taking Graham Norton through our new listings over a glass of Rosé or launching the world’s first winery airline!
And finally, what is your favourite place in New Zealand to visit?
The Coromandel and Marlborough Sounds or generally anywhere by the sea, but there is still so much to discover. I love having friends and family to visit from the UK and look forward to having them over here again.