Accolade Wines Viticulturist Tracy Taylor has played a central role in establishing a mentoring programme for women in the New Zealand wine industry – here’s her story.
“It all started around a year ago,” says Tracy. “Despite the fact that women occupy nearly half of the positions in NZ’s wine industry, there was real concern that no women were putting themselves forward for vacant board positions. So New Zealand Winegrowers, the country’s national body, launched Women in Wine New Zealand.
With a goal of advancing female representation across the industry, Women in Wine organised a national committee as well as regional committees, with Tracy taking up a position on her local Marlborough committee.
“The first meeting was really about scoping out what we wanted to achieve,” explains Tracy. “I raised the issue that few of us had benefitted from a role model when starting out, and called for a mentoring system to be considered to remedy this. The idea was very well received and was ultimately taken up by the wider network.”
Tracy put her hand up to be a mentor and, after an induction, was matched with a young, successful Viticulturist coming through the ranks.
After getting to know each other, Tracy met her mentee for at least an hour a month for a period of six months. “Much of the focus is on setting and achieving goals to help plot out how you’re going to advance your career in wine,” says Tracy. “My mentee is very successful and doing amazing things in life, but I found she wasn’t slowing down to take stock of her successes and understand how they were going to take her career to the next level. “
“She was also navigating a very politicised working environment and facing some challenges with managing a team, all areas in which I was able to impart my experience and advice.”
The programme provided two way benefits, as Tracy found out, including helping her expand her network and giving her a greater understanding of working with younger generations.
“There’s a lot of criticism about millennials and their attitude to work, but this helped show me that the future of the industry is in good hands. My mentee got heaps out of it and it felt really good to show how much you can give back.”
Due to its resounding success, the programme will be expanded to include male industry employees later this year.
Tracy adds, “I’ve volunteered for the next round of mentoring but as we’re deep into vintage I haven’t had a chance to get started – I’m really looking forward to doing it again!”
We are very proud of Tracy for her role in kick starting the programme and wish her the best in its ongoing success.