I started out in the advertising industry working on cars. As much as I loved the perks – free loans of Minis and MGs for the weekend – the automobile industry was never really my thing. After a stint at Kwik Save and Somerfield, I moved into the world of branding. I worked with some amazing brands like Magnum, Heinz, Persil and Mars. A personal highlight was creating and naming Rowntrees Randoms – one of Nestle’s biggest ever confectionery NPD launches.
Meanwhile, I started to get into wine. I studied with the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) eventually graduating with a Level 4 Diploma in Wine & Spirits. I now represent the UK on the WSET International Alumni Advisory Board and am wine and spirits judge for the Great Taste Awards and IWC. I have spoken at a number of events, including the London Wine Fair, and have had articles published on subjects including brand naming, the psychology of selling and creating brand desire.
At global branding agency, Coley Porter Bell, I spent eight years heading up the Pernod Ricard account, working as a marketing and branding consultant, and developing award-winning packaging and NPD for brands such as Campo Viejo, Perrier-Jouët, Chivas Regal, Beefeater and Martell. I joined The Collaborators in 2018 to develop the drinks side of the business.
What skills can you bring as a mentor?
I’ve worked across so many different categories and for so many different brands and businesses. I think there’s a lot to be learnt from cross fertilisation of ideas and experiences. And I’ve also got depth of knowledge in drinks. I understand how to translate functional attributes into compelling stories that will connect with people.
What do you think makes the difference between a good business and a brilliant business?
I buy into the idea of marginal gains, but I do think there are some fundamentals that brilliant businesses do well. Firstly, understanding what the business is about and where it’s going – having focus and vision and being able to bring employees and consumers along on the journey. Secondly, having the right mix of people to help achieve that vision. And finally, thinking about what’s next and how things can be improved? Being proactive and unafraid to experiment and push boundaries.
If you had your time again in business, what would you do differently?
I’m a big believer that all experiences are valuable and help make you who you are, so I’m not sure I’d make different choices. But there are some things I wish I’d learnt sooner: better listening and empathy, developing emotional intelligence and resilience, not taking knock backs and criticism so personally. These skills are invaluable in business…and life for that matter.
Director, THE COLLABORATORS