Rose MacDonald

Rose MacDonald

Wine Ambassador Japan
Rose studied BA-BCOM majoring in Japanese and International Business

What's your job about?

Based in Australia, Pernod Ricard Winemakers is an international company with a portfolio of wines from around the world. I represent Jacob’s Creek and George Wyndham from Australia, Brancott Estate from New Zealand and Campo Viejo from Spain as the in-market Wine Ambassador in Tokyo, Japan. I am responsible for a number of activities including hosting dinners, trade seminars, tastings, market visits to bars and restaurants, networking and digital promotion of our brands. My role is primarily in Japanese and an excellent understanding of the language is key.

To give a couple of examples, I was recently involved with a trade visit to the Australian Open. Jacob’s Creek sponsors Novak Djokovic and the Australian Open; for the Japanese team it’s an excellent opportunity to take our key customers over to Australia to experience all Jacob’s Creek has to offer. We treat our customers to a VIP experience watching the tennis whilst enjoying our wines, in addition to trade visits and a brief jaunt over to the Barossa to check out the Jacob’s Creek winery and visitors centre.

We also just enjoyed a visit from the Chief Winemaker, Ben Bryant, for the Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Launch. Over four days Ben attended a consumer dinner, media and press interviews, trade visits, and trade seminars in Tokyo and Osaka.

On both occasions my responsibilities involved coordinating with different departments within Pernod Ricard Japan and Pernod Ricard Winemakers, in addition to external PR and travel companies. Making sure everything runs smoothly and everything is in the right place at the right time whilst ensuring that everyone is enjoying themselves is crucial, not to mention discussing the many great aspects of our wine!

What's your background?

I grew up in a little seaside town called Austinmer, located a couple hour’s drive to the south of Sydney. I went to high school in Wollongong and caught the travel bug following a 10 week exchange in Germany when I was16. Unsure of what I wanted to do following high school, I worked for a couple of years before completing my TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) qualification and moving to Guangzhou, China to teach English.

I returned to Australia at 21 and enrolled in a BA-BCOM majoring in Japanese and International Business. I truly believe if you want to learn a language, you have to live in the country where that language is spoken. With this in mind I went on exchange in Tokyo for a year, and improved leaps and bounds language-wise whilst experiencing life in Japan. After graduating I returned to Japan on working holiday for 18 months, working in hotels and restaurants in Hakuba and Okinawa.

At the age of 27 I returned to Australia and feeling the pressure to ‘get a real job in the corporate world’ I reluctantly entered the telecommunications industry. Endeavouring to use my Japanese at work I began speaking with Japanese companies on Linkedin, and it was through Linkedin that I received a message inviting me to apply for the Pernod Ricard Winemakers Graduate Wine Ambassador position. The position fit my experience to a T and was everything I was unconsciously looking for; love of wine, life in Japan and a profession full of challenges and opportunities.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Absolutely. When I entered the Pernod Ricard Winemaker’s Graduate Wine Ambassador Program I did so with 4 other members destined towards other markets. Later on in the training we were joined by 3 other members, again destined towards other markets. We were all completely different; different nationalities, backgrounds, working experiences and personalities. But we all had a couple of things in common; we were all there with enthusiasm and a passion for wine. We all had a thirst for knowledge. And we all wanted to grow and embrace new challenges. I believe whoever you are, if you have these attributes you would be great for the role!

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I know it gets said a lot, but I really do like the diversity of my job. I love that day to day I could be presenting new products to buyers, hosting a consumer dinner, organising trade visits, considering digital media content and strategy or doing internal tastings. In diversity lies challenge, and it has been a big learning curve staying organised and being on top of a whole bunch of disjointed tasks. Language is also big challenge for me; 9/10 I’m presenting in Japanese so I have to practice a lot more to make sure my messages are clear and accurate. But when it all comes together, and my co-workers and customers are happy with my work it’s an awesome feeling.

What are the limitations of your job?

There are many challenges in my job. First of all I’m an Australian working in Japan; although I’ve lived and worked in Japan before there are still many opportunities for faux pas! I’ve had to alter the way I work to adapt to my new working environment, which can be difficult when you have to change long lived working habits.

Language is also a big challenge; I have no trouble in casual conversation but formal speeches and business meetings are a whole different matter, particularly when you’re representing the company in a formal situation. There is pressure to perform well, and I spend a HUGE amount of time preparing, writing scripts, practising, and doing my best to make sure my language is on point.

3 pieces of advice for your teenage self...

  1. Don’t procrastinate – it’s so much easier to just get stuff done.
  2. Never let the fear of mistakes hold you back.
  3. School is not the only place you learn. There is a wealth of knowledge and resources out there; through people you talk to, the internet and media. Find out what you’re interested in, find out what motivates you and do something with it. If you like music start a band. If you like cooking experiment with new recipes. I’m so often inspired by young people doing what they love; whether it’s a 6 year old shredding in the surf or a group of 14 year old’s dominating in a Triple J Unearthed special - there is so much raw talent out there. Even if you try something and don’t like it, you’re still learning and challenging yourself and moving forward.