Leadership in Wine #10 - Tessa Bird-Ritchie

  • Alexis Robin

Tessa started her career in hospitality while she was studying psychology at the University of Auckland. In 2014 she took the opportunity to work for Delegat as an Account Manager based in Auckland. Quickly her professionalism and sales skills made Tessa one of the high performers of the New Zealand Sales team. In 2017, Tessa was promoted Regional Sales Manager for the South Island. She manages two account managers and several large key accounts.


How do you define leadership?

I feel a leader's true role should always be to facilitate the success of their team. This is usually a mixture of keeping the day-to-day running smoothly, coaching and up-skilling and creating a positive and trusting environment where feedback is shared both ways.


What are the main challenges of being a leader in the wine industry today?

There are few roles in FMCG where leadership or management is the sole focus. Most will also involve the management of key accounts or customers and finding the right work-load balance between these can be a challenge.


What are your major breakthroughs in your career to become the leader you are now?

Most of my career in the wine industry was front of house in various venues in the New Zealand Hospitality scene. I started with Delegat in 2014 as an Account Manager and took on board some key account responsibilities a couple of years later. I finally moved into the Regional Sales Manager role in August 2017. Joining Delegat was the major break-through for me. They are an amazing company to work for and have really fostered my development in the wine sales industry.


If you were starting your career in 2019 in the wine industry, what advice would you give to yourself to become successful and content?

I think people perceive the wine industry as having a certain glamorous appeal and whilst there are perks like access to great wine, in reality it’s long hours and you have to be prepared to roll your sleeves up!

My advice would be to do some research and choose a company with an excellent reputation and then be prepared to work your way up from the bottom.

We are lucky in New Zealand as there are many diverse wine companies with solid reputations that make a great places to start.

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