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A day in the life of…
Graduate Wine Ambassador at Pernod Ricard Winemakers
Ambar Maddox graduated from the Queensland University of Technology in 2016 with a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) and Bachelor of Creative Industries (Entertainment).
Recently we caught up with her to hear about an average day in her role as the Wine Ambassador for Pernod Ricard Winemakers.
Touched, a tune by What So Not, starts blaring from my phone and I scramble to turn it off before it gets to the bridge of the song - way too intense at this hour. I lie in bed for a moment and argue the pros and cons of either going for a run or doing some yoga in my living room - procrastination at its best. Eventually I get up to start my day.
This morning I’ve opted for eating breakfast at work in the kitchen. It sounds a bit sad, but our office is stunning and has 360 degree views of Sydney from the 43rd floor. Needless to say, it’s much nicer than my living room. I watch a cruise ship meandering out of the harbour before remembering that my phone is still on sleep mode and hasn’t been receiving emails – whoops. Between chatting to whoever is around grabbing coffee (basically half the office), I flick it off sleep mode and catch up on emails that have come through from my colleagues around the world. There are 19 of us in the graduate program in 15 different countries, so there’s a few discrepancies when it comes to time zones.
First cab off the rank this morning is a meeting to discuss the Australian Open. Jacob’s Creek is a major sponsor for the sporting event and it’s one of the main projects that I work on. Today we’re discussing wine and menu options for our VIPs who we’ll be hosting at the tournament in the Sponsor Suite. Are we going to showcase a Chardonnay or Riesling? Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz? If we go with Riesling, will it pair well with the Mongolian Lamb on the menu? I fire off answers while pulling a spreadsheet to show the team what I’ve planned for the twenty wine tastings I’ll be hosting over the two-week event. Once we’ve aligned on the menus we’ll be serving, we then start discussing which venue we should host our VIP guests in for the after party. It’s mentioned that some market research might be necessary – you know, to make sure it’s the right strategic fit.
I grab a cup of tea before heading to my locker for my keyboard. As our office follows the hot desking model, we have no assigned seating and can sit anywhere. It takes me forever to sit down today – not due to the lack of desks available but because I’ve been travelling interstate for the last few weeks and everyone is looking to follow-up with me on their projects to gain inspiration about our wine portfolio. Before I know it, it’s 10:45am and I’m still standing holding my keyboard and cold tea talking about the Stoneleigh Project, an immersive wine tasting experience that I’ve been running in Melbourne for the past three weeks.
I squeeze in a bit of admin for 45 minutes before the next person asks me about how the Stoneleigh Project in Melbourne went. This prompts me to post on our internal sharing platform giving a full wrap of the event. Between responding to emails, ordering wine and raising invoices, I have a look at our social channels to make sure everything is on track. I respond to a few customer enquiries that have come through the Facebook page and schedule posts for the next few weeks across the channels. I’m careful to make sure that the content I post always links back to our strategic priorities for our domestic market and celebrates any key dates such as World Rosé Day (who would have thought!?).
A ping goes off on my computer and lets me know that our creative agency has arrived at reception for our 11:30am meeting. They’ve come to discuss a launch party we’re hosting next week at a secret location for our new wine brand, I Am George. It’s time to get the stock quantities finalised and ordered and it’s up to me to estimate how many bottles of wine will be required for the evening. In the end, I know I’m being cautious and overordering but the last thing I want at a launch party for a wine brand is to run out of wine… Not ideal. Moving along, our next WIP item on the list is to choose the popcorn flavours for our internal launch in the office that we’ll also be hosting next week. I’m going with Shiraz, Matcha, Salted Caramel and Smoked Paprika. It might sound a bit weird having such eccentric flavours but it fits well with the brand personality of the wine which is all about breaking conventional rules.
After a quick walk down to Darling Harbour to get some fresh air and lunch, I’m into the tasting room to set up for an internal tasting. This month, we’re getting together to discuss strategic innovation and portfolio architecture, so we’re tasting through a range of varietals and brands within our portfolio. It’s my job to facilitate these tastings, including pulling scan data to highlight key market trends represented by both value and volume growth. After a passion fuelled discussion with colleagues, it’s decided that a wider sample size is needed before we reach any conclusions. I pencil in a blind tasting to replicate an in-house focus group for later this week.
I say a rushed goodbye to my team and print off a bunch of tasting notes I have ready on file as I make my way out of the office. This afternoon, I’m off to run a staff training at one of our key on-premise venues who have recently added a number of wines to their wine list. Depending on the venue, the training could take the structure of a basic introduction to wine or be more advanced. It’s all about knowing your audience and pegging your training to meet their education level.
I’m back on the other side of town at another key venue where tonight I’ll be hosting a wine dinner. This doesn’t happen every night but at the moment, we have a six-week activation running for one of fine wine brands, St Hugo. I make sure everything looks ready to go with the wines in the fridge and staff all briefed before our guests arrive. I also pop to the bathroom to make sure I don’t look like a banshee.
Our guests arrive and I present each of them a glass of champagne during introductions. Eventually we take our seats and I’m officially introduced to the group by the host. Tonight, it’s a five-course degustation with matching wines and as the Wine Ambassador it’s my job to talk through each of the wines. Given that St Hugo has such a rich history, I also tell the story of the brand over the course of the evening to our guests. Most nights I smile inwardly when I remember that I knew nothing about wine a year ago.
The wine dinner is wrapping up for the evening and the guests opt for a final drink at the bar. I ask for their feedback on the wine and the food before thanking them for taking time out from their week to join us. Eventually mumbles of work in the morning causes the party to head their own separate ways. I jump in a cab and have a look at my agenda for tomorrow. First meeting looks like it’s 11:30am. I sigh a silent sigh of relief and I set my alarm for a little later than normal. Normally my body clock will wake me at 6:00am again tomorrow but let’s be honest - there’s no way I’m going for a run tomorrow after that five-course degustation.