Thursday, July 29, 2010

When in Wine Country!

My last blog post was about preparing for an interview. I mentioned that I was prepping myself for my upcoming radio interview, and that my family was asking me mock interview questions. One of them was "What is it like to work in the wine industry?". While many people think the wine world is very glamorous, what I like most about the industry is the people--a good interest when you are in the people business.

I have always found the vast majority of winery professionals to be intelligent, good conversationalists, well traveled and that they enjoy good food and wine. Whether they made their millions in computers, paint, intellectual property, real estate or garbage, they all enjoy working the soil and creating a mercurial product. The fruit they grow and the wines they craft are their pride and joy. The professionals who bring the wine to market, create a brand entity, pour over spreadsheets and manage the personnel all share a common love of wine, and that interest is evident in their business dealings.

One of my most memorable business visits in wine recruiting came when I was working at my former company. I was tasked with touring the CEO and Regional President to some of my clients. I have done this in every office and industry I've worked in, but for some reason I had a lot of executives come out to the Sacramento office to visit the winery contacts. It gave my backwater office some clout--which was very helpful starting out. But I digress....

The first appointment of the day was at Beaulieu Vineyards in Rutherford. Like clockwork, the three of us were standing at the tasting room doors at 10:00 am. Our gracious hostess handed us all a flute of sparkling wine and toasted the start of our tour. Being the local, and only female of my company's group, everyone looked to me to take the first sip.

What to do? You never drink at work, and here it is early in the day and I have the CEO and President. I asked the CEO for his advice, and he said, "When in Rome", and raised the glass to his lips. What a way to break the ice on this client tour. The tour was spectacular, and we were treated very well, including a special bottle of wine being presented to us during our lunch next door at Rutherford Grill.

The rest of the day was completely upbeat, capped off by a wonderful dinner at the Culinary Institute of America's Greystone restaurant. The ability to work in an industry with a great product, excellent people and such hospitality seemed like a dream to me.

From that day forward I worked to make WineTalent a reality. I have created my own company providing search services to the wine industry. Six years have flown by and I am loving every minute. Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way, and I look forward to raising a glass with you in the near future. When in wine country!

Interviewing, In all Shapes and Forms

Last week I was interviewed on WineBizRadio. Prior to my on-air moment, I was running through some potential questions and answers so that I'd be ready for anything, and could talk intelligently. My family threw out some easy ones, and a few tough questions. It was good to get some ideas about what WineTalent does, how I perform searches, and what the status of the wine industry is. There were a few fun questions, and also some that I bombed out on. When it came time to be interviewed by those fact-finding radio personalities, I felt confident that I could hold my own.

Being interviewed got me thinking about what it is like to prepare for a job interview. I think it is very important to get your "game face on". Find out all you can about the company you will be talking to, who you are interviewing with, and the job itself. Google those interviewers, read everything you can about the company on the web, and read over the job description. If you can talk to colleagues who know the company, do so and find out insights about the job, why they are hiring, and future opportunities.

Recently I was placing a sales and marketing person for a newer winery. Many of the candidates went out and bought the wines, tasted them, and formed their own ideas about the wines. While this is often not considered research, for this position it was very insightful for the candidates, and allowed them to understand the position and future capabilities of the winery. While this might be odd outside of the wine industry, it isn't a bad gig for those in it!

So do a mock interview before you sit down in front of the interviewers. Your family and friends questions can help put you at ease when it is the real deal at your potential employer. Oh, and if you do try the wines, go easy on them so you are at the top of your game come interview time.