It has been a busy week for Imogen Hayes. Not only has she taken home the ‘Marketer Of The Year’ trophy at the 2019 Woman In Wine Awards, but she is also touring in the US with Wine Australia for ‘OZ wine month’ to promote wines from down-under to Americans.
We caught up with Handpicked Wines’ indefatigable marketing manager after her big win in New York to talk achievement in the wine industry, being a woman in a male-dominant industry, upcoming projects and how she finds new ideas to disrupt the wine industry.
You have worked with Handpicked Wines for the last 6 years. What is your biggest accomplishment since you started?
Imogen: Probably being part of something that has grown a lot - it’s pretty rewarding work when you can see the growth. When I started there was 10 staff and now we have 70 in Australia and a few more in Asia and USA. Being able to contribute as well as contribute to building a positive and inclusive team culture has been very rewarding.
What is the best thing about being nominated for a ‘Women in Wine’ award?
The best thing is that these awards exist - Jane Thomson has opened up the conversation around gender representation in wine which is supercritical, and will hopefully open up the conversation around diversity in general. Knowing there are so many great marketers in this industry is also a great feeling!
How would your colleagues describe you?
Hmm… I probably don’t fit the mould of your traditional wine industry marketer. Creativity and playing with non-tradition are important to me so that’s probably what people see. A little bit “quirky”?? And I try always to be fair and ethical - hopefully, that comes across.
You organised a wine wedding, your team built a recycled cardboard bar at Sydney Contemporary, you have teamed up with some of the biggest fashion brands. How do you renew Handpicked Wines marketing strategy constantly?
I try not to reinvent the wheel - we take creative approaches to everything new but fundamentally the strategy stays the same - create engaging wine experiences for consumers and present them in fun and interesting ways (within an often tight budget).
Do you have any advice for aspiring marketers?
Learn the other parts of your business - especially sales and operations. It’s easier to do your job properly if you spend time understanding what challenges you face outside the office.
How do you thrive in a male dominant industry?
Haha...I guess it’s like most industries. You try and do good work, support other women around you push for greater representation when there is the opportunity.
What is the one thing you would change in the wine industry to make it better?
Well...we can’t change the weather :) The Australian wine industry is extremely fragmented - with 60+ wine regions across Australia sometimes it is hard to work together. Working for a multi-regional producer like Handpicked makes this even harder as we aren’t all concentrated in one community. If we could find a way to build connections and share learnings across regions, this would be really valuable - especially for export.
Who is your favourite industry hero?
All the female winemakers in the Australian industry - marketing is easier, you are in an office and it is pretty female-dominant. When you are actually working on the production side you are in rural areas, the work is labour intensive and it is incredibly male-dominated.
What would people be surprised to learn about yourself?
I’ve started a podcast! Combining my two loves - wine and comedy :) It will be out soon