So, tell us about your early life, and generally what led you to your role today?
I have meandered my childhood around the small towns of New Zealand until landing in Wellington. I always imagined I would be a schoolteacher, so starting a wine company to disrupt the status quo couldn’t be further away from those dreams. Having been involved in the wine industry from large scale events organiser to establishing regional marketing bodies to eventually running a winery, and then setting up the Le Cordon Bleu Institute for chef training and hospitality management degrees, I’d seen many aspects of the industry and felt strongly that we operated in a bit of an echo-chamber, talking to the people who already felt confident about wine. The alcohol industry has moved fast, and in some areas, wine is missing out on having a dominant position – especially around portability, convenience, fun and appealing to the modern consumer. So, we started JOIY! If only I could go back a decade and advise my younger self….
How long have you been involved in the wine industry and what made you want to become part of it?
I started with Toast Martinborough Wine, Food and Music Festival back in 2000. A few deviations in between, but essentially in some form or another for 12 years.
What do you love most about your role?
Surprising people. Demonstrating that quality wine can exist in many formats. I love that I get to do business on a global scale – that my role demands an understanding of audiences in different countries and how to business internationally.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
See the above! When you do things differently, there’s always an element of ‘education’ and ‘justification’ – not to our target audience who totally ‘get it’, but to a more conservative contingent. But at the end of the day, the biggest challenge is managing fast growth and scale as a small business. That I have no IT Department is endlessly frustrating, as head of IT, HR, Accounts, Admin, Sales, Marketing etc…there are no ‘departments’. Personally, my greatest challenge is to get my printer behaving 😉
To you, what makes the New Zealand wine industry special / unique?
Its collaborative nature. As a small country all striving to be heard in a global, very crowded market, we are there for each other and to promote New Zealand wine as the best.
It’s a real strength for our industry - people actually care.
Do you think there are gender-specific challenges in the wine industry? Do women have a harder time becoming successful/being taken seriously, or is that a thing of the past?
I think the gender-specific challenges that plagued the industry’s history are largely gone. But networks take time to establish, and these are still in their infancy. There is no option but to take women seriously. We’re trail-blazing and leading equally in all aspects of the industry. The greatest challenges are often more around establishing the networks for each other and having self-belief.
Young women are some of the most confident and skilled workers I’ve had the pleasure to work with, very inspiring. Look out world!
What goals in the wine industry are you still wanting to achieve?
I don’t think goals are ever achieved in the wine industry. They’re a moving feast. Just when you think you’ve got close, it changes direction.
What would you say to women considering a career in wine?
Go for it!
What is your favourite place in New Zealand to visit and why?
Any remote beach or nature walk. Peace, solitude, bathing in our stunning scenery and access to endless forest walks and empty beaches.
And finally, what is your favourite wine variety?
Oh, I wish I only had one! I’m open to trying all varieties and judging them on their own merit. I’ve an eclectic palate but find it hard to go past a good chardonnay.