LAURA JEWELL MW
Time at the company:
2 years 6 months
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE?
Head of Market for UK and Europe, Wine Australia
WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
I work with a team of five based in the UK to promote Australian wine across the UK and European markets. We run events, tastings, educational master classes and trade fairs, and assist wineries in finding distribution in the various markets. It’s a mix of event management, teaching, strategic planning and team leadership. We are part of the Australian Government, so it can get quite political too.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD AND WHAT CHANGED?
I had dreams of being a helicopter pilot but soon decided I didn’t have the discipline to be in the armed services, and discovered the world of wine while at Uni, so changed tack completely.
WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?
I did a Classics degree at Uni, and then went on to complete my Master of Wine in 1997. Currently, there are 369 MW’s in the world. It has opened so many doors for me across my career and, while it is a hugely difficult qualification to attain, I would encourage anyone in the trade with ambitions to seriously consider it.
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
Believe in your own abilities.
HOW DO WE ENCOURAGE MORE WOMEN TO JOIN THE WINE INDUSTRY?
Younger women and graduates need role models to give them the confidence to push through barriers. I am thankful that I had some strong mentors, both men and women, to guide me through my career.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORKING ENVIRONMENT?
I have a fantastic team of women who really care about what they are doing, who are ambitious, capable and clever. They are very different characters, but we share a great deal of laughter and celebration of success. We recently won The Drinks Business Trade Event of the Year award for one of our events in London, which was down to the hard work and imagination of the team. We are also supported by a great team over in Australia.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE IF YOU COULD?
The time difference between here and Australia makes it difficult to communicate some of the time, and people in both countries end up have calls at strange times later in the evening or early morning.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME?
I hope to be doing more of the same, using my experience and expertise to encourage younger people and women in particular to enter and grow within the wine trade.
DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE THE SAME PERSON AT WORK AND IN PRIVATE?
I used to be the buyer for one of the big retailers so was very aware of being the public face of the wine department for them, and making sure I kept my private life very separate. Now I am not so much in the public view, I can be more relaxed at work and at home.
WHERE AND IN WHAT ROLES ARE WOMEN IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE AT YOUR COMPANY?
Wine Australia has a good number of women in the senior management team, and two on the board, so it is an encouraging environment to be in.
DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO YOU?
Working and living in London, one of the most diverse cities in the world, means that diversity is a given. Prejudice of any sort is not welcome.
HOW GOOD IS YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE?
It could always be improved, but I work in a very sociable trade, and have made many friends through it.
WHAT QUALITIES DOES BEING IN YOUR ROLE NECESSITATE?
Level headedness, decisiveness, empathy, strategic thinking, commercial thinking and team work.
ANY FINAL COMMENTS?
The UK trade, when I joined it 30 years ago, was a much more male dominated sector than it is now, but only a few years ago we had a situation where the top decision makers in wine development at the major retailers were all women. So the trade has come on a long way. However we know that there are fewer women applying for winemaking or viticultural courses in Australia, so gender diversity is not yet the economic imperative worldwide in the wine industry. There are still many women who experience either conscious or unconscious negative bias in what has been traditionally a male domain.