A Woman in Wine: My Journey of Breaking into the Business

Advice from a successful woman in a male-dominated industry? Surround yourself with people who you trust and who support you in your endeavours.

Rocio-Osborne-1

While I’ve worked for the Osborne Group for over 10 years, in some ways it seems like my whole life has lead up to it.

Bodegas Montecillo was founded in 1874, making it the third oldest winery in the Rioja region of Spain. Today it is owned by the Osborne family—my family. With a history spanning 200 years, the Osborne Group maintains the heritage and tradition by continuing to craft fine wine, sherry, brandy and liqueur. I fondly remember playing amongst the sherry casks in the bodega, and to this day the aromas still conjure vivid childhood memories.  

Despite being around wine my entire life, I initially pursued a career in finance and law. Since we are such a large family, very restrictive rules were set in place regarding family members working for the company to ensure that not only the company remained in family hands generation after generation, but that the company was also run professionally. Today there are only four family members who work in the company.

So instead of taking on a career in wine I attended the Instituto de Estudios Bursátiles (Institute of Securities Studies) and earned my masters in exchange and financial markets, as well as a law degree from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. It was in 2006 that I joined the company as a Brand Ambassador in the International Division after completing an external process run by a professional headhunter.

When I started it seemed as if I was met with skepticism, both inside and outside of the company.  One of the first challenges I faced was my own name. While being an Osborne might make it seem like a spot in the family business would be a natural fit, I had to work harder to prove that I was capable and the right person for the job regardless of the family connection. Additionally, because I am simultaneously a member of the Osborne family and an employee of the Osborne Group, it took me a bit more time to become fully integrated with the rest of the company and my colleagues.

Back when I first entered the wine industry, it was very much an “old-school boys club”,  making both my age and gender components of my career that I had to contend with. I would show up to meetings and be met with a look of surprise, as I wasn’t the older man they were expecting. These interactions inspired me to develop my diplomacy skills as a way to ensure that I was being taken seriously, and that I was being heard.

Now in a new phase of my career, I’m happy to see more women in the industry. Women are now in sales, working as restaurant buyers, and as journalists. It is such a positive thing to see as women bring a decidedly distinct perspective to the industry. As women, we make up a large section of the market. We are largely the decision makers in the home, particularly when it comes to food and drink. With that in mind, who better to help women decide what wine to purchase than another woman?

However, Global PR and Communications Director isn’t my only role—I’m also a mother to a 2-year-old son and a wife.  I, like so many other women, struggle with trying to balance all my roles. In fact, it’s much harder than I thought it would be. I get horribly homesick when I’m away but, it is my passion for my work that keeps me going.  My husband  plays a integral role in my success. Without his support I wouldn’t be able to do this. I am so fortunate to also have someone who helps us at home and with our son. My advice to other women is to surround yourself with people who you trust and who support you in your endeavours. Having those great, supportive people in my life allows me to focus on my work while being assured that everything at home is being run as if I were there.

Rocio-Osborne-2

Like any successful journey, mine has come with sacrifices, but the positive aspects of my career have far outweighed the negative. Women entering the wine business, or any business, should deeply prepare, be ready to work hard and to make sacrifices, as success doesn’t come easy – but it’s worth it.  The wine world is such a complex, magical world that you never stop learning or having new experiences.

In addition to the strong commitment I have to expanding Montecillo Crianza, Montecillo Reserva and Osborne Solaz in the international markets, I look forward to the challenge of developing new products in our portfolio that appeal to younger consumers.

My experiences and sacrifices have helped me to value how lucky I am to do what I love so much and to have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of working in the family business.

 

Rocío Osborne is Global PR and Communications Director and Sixth Generation Spanish Vintner of the Osborne Group, in addition to being a mother to a young son and a wife. She represents the company with industry organizations, press and clients, both within Spain and internationally. She leads training seminars and tastings for sales and distributor teams and is extremely active within every sector of the company. To learn more about the Osborne Group please visit: http://www.osborne.es/en/
Close
More in Personal Journey
What About When the Parent Has Special Needs? A Personal Story

There is no such word as can’t We often hear...

Close