Leadership in Wine #26 - Rodolphe Frerejean Taittinger
Rodolphe and his two brothers Guillaume and Richard founded Champagne Frerejean Frères in 2005 based in Avize, a Grand Cru village, nestled between rolling hills of vines in the Côte des Blancs, Champagne. They are the latest generation in a line of cannon-makers, who supplied the French army defending the region against the Prussians during the Napoleonic Wars.
In 2014, Rodolphe co-founded Sagittarius World, an Anglo-French company importing and distributing super premium champagnes, wines and spirits internationally.
Picture of Rodolphe (right) with Didier Pierson (left), his chef de cave (cellar master).
How do you define leadership?
To me, leadership is putting all the effort into guiding a business to its best, fulfilling its objectives. It is being proactive, anticipating the changes, being innovative, to stay on top and ahead of trends. I believe it is important to have high motivation, to work with a strong team, to lead by example and to believe in success. Communication and confidence are together key points for performance. It is also sometimes making concessions to benefit the organization, but always staying positive and optimist, thinking of strategies to make the very best.
What are the main challenges of being a leader in the wine industry today?
The main challenge of being a leader in the wine industry today is the increase of competition. There is a lot of other Maisons and brands on the market today, and it is important to find the right differentiation points to stay competitive and unique. With our Champagne Frerejean Frères, we decided to promote the right balance between tradition and modernity. We also struggle for the quality of the champagnes, which is essential to me. I work with my team to get the best of the vineyards, respecting the regulations and the environment ethically. That is when proactivity and adaptation to change make sense. That is why I believe these are the essential keys to be a leader. Even more so in the wine industry where consumers have so many choices and high volatility in their purchase decisions.
What are your major breakthroughs in your career to become the leader you are now?
I had the chance to grow up in the Champagne region, in a family strongly linked to the champagne culture and tradition. I then created along with my two brothers, the Frerejean Frères Champagne company, fourteen years ago. The company has widely grown during all those years. Being part of this development made me acquire the different qualities to become the leader I am today. The atmosphere has completely changed since the beginning. Our team is now composed of more than fifty people, and we have developed many other brands. We really managed to learn from each other, and it is all along the years that I acquired experience. I think what is important is that I have always been guided by passion, which increased my motivation and optimism. Believing in success has helped me a lot and still helps us to keep growing.
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 I would recommend taking time to analyze the trends first, to be sure to know where I am going and to realize the work it represents. Of course, it is also important to follow ambition and to stay optimistic. I would say don’t give up if it seems hard and believe it is possible. I would finish by saying that the most important is essentially to follow your passion as doing that has guided me and helped me develop my business and my leadership. It is fundamental not only for success, but also to feel fulfilled and delighted in the work we do.