“We are keen to find people who can look at things differently, who see things from a fresh angle and can challenge us to ensure we have a fully informed and well-rounded view of the issues facing our industry.” That’s the challenge that Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, has set itself in its bid to bring four new board members into the organisation. Here he explains in more detail the kind of person it is looking for and how to apply if you are interested.
The deadline for people to apply to become one of the four new board members of the WSTA is April 30. You can do so by going to its website here.
You are looking to introduce four new board members to the WSTA – why are you doing this now?
We believe it’s hugely important to bring new skills, disciplines and ideas to the board; people with a different perspective who don’t necessarily hold the most senior role in their company. It’s another way of trying to ensure the WSTA represents the wine and spirits industry as fully as possible.
You are particularly keen to get “fresh thinking” new members – what do you mean by that?
We are keen to find people who can look at things differently, who see things from a fresh angle and can challenge us to ensure we have a fully informed and well-rounded view of the issues facing our industry – especially after the experiences of the last few years. We think that a range of voices with different experiences and career paths on the board will better achieve this.
What sort of backgrounds are you looking for?
We want to hear from anyone who meets the job spec requirements and feels their talent or experience would benefit the WSTA board and membership. This can be someone* who works at an SME, works for UK wine and spirit producers, importers/exporters, wholesalers or merchants with skills and qualifications, including qualified lawyers or procurement, HR, communication, ICT training, data and education specialists.
How experienced in the drinks industry do you need to be?
We want new recruits who are going to bring something new to the board, including skills or experience not currently represented around the WSTA board table. But we also hope it’s an opportunity for individuals to benefit both from working with senior figures from – and for the benefit of – the UK wine and spirits industry. We will consider each candidate based on their skills and experience. They need to be working for a WSTA member so they will already have an understanding of the industry and the issues the WSTA is working on.
What do you hope these “fresh thinkers” can bring the WSTA?
Exactly that. Fresh thinking, new perspectives, the benefit of expertise in skills and disciplines that are not so well represented around the board table currently. Ultimately, we want to promote greater diversity, equity and inclusion and attract the best advisers and decision makers, who are skilled and forward thinking, in order to support the WSTA team to provide its members with the best possible advice and guidance – both for today’s challenges, but also for tomorrow’s.
What is the application process?
If you are interested and want to find out more about the role or applying, please go to our website here and you should also feel free to get in touch if you want to know more or ask any questions.
What is expected of you if you are a board member in terms of commitments and personal involvement?
We would require you to commit to a two year term on the board and attend four board meetings a year as well as attend events and support WSTA committees and, if appropriate, the WSTA team.
Are there any areas and skills sets that you are particularly keen to tap into to help address current trading and issues in the drinks sector?
Yes – see above!* But perhaps a good way to explain what we are after is to say that we think disciplines like data, procurement, ICT and supply chain innovation are all the more important in a post-Brexit, post-pandemic world where ‘business as normal’ no longer applies.
What are the biggest challenges that you see for the WSTA to tackle in the year ahead?
We continue to urge the government for support to help businesses who continue to battle to pull themselves out of trouble post-pandemic. This includes ensuring that the Treasury don’t inflict inflation busting tax hikes on alcohol when the new taxation system kicks in on August 1.
Other challenges include trying to help businesses through the chaos that is the Scotland Deposit Return Scheme, rocketing PRN prices and helping members to work more collaboratively to reduce emissions and protect our environment. In fact, environmental policies and industry reputation are two areas where I feel certain we will – rightly – be under pressure to do more over the next three years.
As these are voluntary roles you are looking for people who have passion and willingness to serve as well as interesting/ relevant skills sets?
We are after people with passion for the industry and its future, who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise to help colleagues working within the wine and spirit trade. I also hope it will help the WSTA to meet, understand and help more people who work in our wonderful industry. The WSTA is for everyone, not just for industry leaders.
It’s also worth being as clear as we can that these roles aren’t ‘one-off’. The WSTA board has explicitly chosen to open and maintain four board seats for fresh thinking experts, who want to help the WSTA be better at representing its members and our industry more broadly. If you are interested and think you fit the bill – now or in two, four- or six-years’ time – we want to hear from you. It’s an ongoing commitment to have these voices represented around the WSTA board table when decisions are being made.
Anything else to say?
The final word goes to the WSTA Chair Mark Riley: “The industry continues to face significant challenges as well as opportunities, and my primary focus is to ensure that the WSTA continues to meet these head-on. By removing the requirement that WSTA board members must hold the most senior role in their alcoholic drinks business, we can introduce new perspectives and skills which will ensure the board benefits from – and can promote – greater diversity and inclusion. We also hope that many of them will go on to be future leaders in the wine and spirit trade.”
- If you would like to find out more and apply then click here.