Leadership in Wine #17 - Misha Wilkinson

  • Alexis Robin

Misha came from a theatrical family spending her early years either in a dressing room or on a stool at the side of the stage, watching her mother, sing opera. Since those early days, Misha has worked primarily in the Information Technology sector with many years based in Singapore where she established the marketing function across Asia Pacific for a variety of companies including Intel and Dell Computer.

Misha has also taken on roles promoting various aspects of New Zealand including leading the marketing team at Auckland City whilst living in New Zealand and more recently with consulting assignments to various government agencies to promote New Zealand products across the South-East Asia region.

Misha has 17 years of experience in wine with a strong focus on Marketing and Brand Development.


How do you define leadership?

Leadership is about being able to see the big picture and set direction and goals, and then also having the ability to inspire and motivate others to achieve those goals. I think the qualities that are intrinsic to good leadership are strong interpersonal and communications skills, honesty and integrity, being able to ask the right questions at the right time, and always retaining a positive attitude.


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

Identifying your vision for where you want your brand to be is of paramount importance – but this can be difficult to define when it’s a global vision in a very dynamic industry like the wine industry. This requires constant realignment of one’s business to the demand patterns.  

As a boutique producer of Misha's Vineyard, one’s goals may not be so much about volume and growth but more about being able to clearly define the niches in which you want to succeed and be known for.  Then having a clear strategy on how you can achieve those goals. Sometimes it’s hard not to be distracted by what other brands are doing in the market and be tempted to follow them. It takes strong leadership to stay the course.


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

In my early corporate years, I worked for companies that were leaders in their field – Intel Semiconductor and then Dell Computer, where I headed up the marketing function across the Asia Pacific region. At the time those companies dominated the market in their sector and my job was all about protecting and continuing to grow that position. Both of those companies played a key role in shaping my career and teaching me what was important in business. Education also provides a confidence level and I did my MBA at that time (with my husband Andy Wilkinson), which consolidated the theory with the practical.

When we started our own company, we simply put together all that we had learned in our corporate careers, which included a very solid business and marketing plan, before we had even found the land on which to plant our vineyard.


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

Working with great companies is incredibly important and for me it made a huge impact. I feel privileged to have worked for some amazing ones where I learned so much. So if you’re starting out, a large company (who is a leader in their field) will usually have things like a clear vision, good management, a great team and strong values.

It’s good to learn in that sort of environment so that you have skills that you can bring to smaller organisations or your own business down the track.  For me, the choice of company is way more important than the specific job.

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