Coach Class

Interview with Emma Fox, CEO Berry Bros. & Rudd

January 11, 2022 Dom Burch Season 1 Episode 32
Interview with Emma Fox, CEO Berry Bros. & Rudd
Coach Class
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Coach Class
Interview with Emma Fox, CEO Berry Bros. & Rudd
Jan 11, 2022 Season 1 Episode 32
Dom Burch

Emma Fox is CEO at Berry Bros. & Rudd, Britain's oldest wine and spirit merchant, having traded from the same shop since 1698.

Today the company has offices in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, a Wine School and an exclusive fine wine and dining venue in London's St James's, and they hold two Royal Warrants for H.M. The Queen and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales.

However Emma's career started out in brewing. Having worked in a Victoria Wine off-licence to pay her way through university, she snapped up the opportunity on her first graduate role to manage a shop within Bass called Augustus Barnett.

A baby buying role then emerged in wine, which led to her completing the wine and spirits training, and at the tender age of 23 saw her flying solo around the world to exotic places like Argentina, Chile and New Zealand.

She reflects on the fact that working hard through uni, combined with an opportunity that presented itself like running an off-licence could be considered 'lucky'. But one goes hand in hand with the other. She knew what questions to ask at the interview for the role, as she had worked in an off-licence.

Her career has taken many paths since, including working for Asda, Walmart Canada, Halfords and TOFs (Original Factory Shop), but it has now gone full circle - albeit the quality of the wine at Berry Bros is a bit better than it was back then.

The thing that draws all of the organisations together is the team of people she's worked with, and how they get things done and have fun. A real sense of getting things done willingly and well through others (something she learned from Asda legend Archie Norman), and taking the role seriously but not yourself. Enabling people to have fun at work is really important to Emma.

She has never really had a masterplan for her career, but she was always been driven and determined without knowing what the end result would be. She always wanted to do new roles and experience new things, which enabled her to spread her wings within large organisations like Bass and Asda.

She was prepared to take the risk on ex-pat assignments without worrying too much about what the next step was. She preferred to enjoy the now.

The best advice she's had was from David Cheesewright who ran Walmart International at the time. She'd been passed over for a couple of promotions, and was a little frustrated.

He asked for five minutes and said he had a real opportunity for her - he wanted her to be his logistics director.  Her first response was she didn't think she could do it as she'd never done logistics.

But what he wanted was her transferrable leadership skills, not logistics experience - it was about the how not the what. It was a real penny drop moment for Emma and something she uses all the time when speaking to women leaders in particular. Say yes and figure it out after.

By pushing herself out of her comfort zone it made her a better general manager - adding to her marketing and buying skills - making her a more rounded leader, which has held her in good stead ever since.

It was a risk, not knowing how she would cope - but a great lesson in life.

The gift she would give her younger self would be to be a bit more patient and be a bit calmer. Back then she was know as the Tasmanian Devil.

She recalls that great phrase: "To go fast go alone, to go further go together."

Bring people with you, and manage the urge to do everything now.

Wise words. 

If you enjoy listening to this podcast why not check out some of the others in season 1 & 2. Or perhaps you fancy taking part yourself? If so why not get in touch. You can find me via LinkedIn or Twitter

Show Notes

Emma Fox is CEO at Berry Bros. & Rudd, Britain's oldest wine and spirit merchant, having traded from the same shop since 1698.

Today the company has offices in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, a Wine School and an exclusive fine wine and dining venue in London's St James's, and they hold two Royal Warrants for H.M. The Queen and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales.

However Emma's career started out in brewing. Having worked in a Victoria Wine off-licence to pay her way through university, she snapped up the opportunity on her first graduate role to manage a shop within Bass called Augustus Barnett.

A baby buying role then emerged in wine, which led to her completing the wine and spirits training, and at the tender age of 23 saw her flying solo around the world to exotic places like Argentina, Chile and New Zealand.

She reflects on the fact that working hard through uni, combined with an opportunity that presented itself like running an off-licence could be considered 'lucky'. But one goes hand in hand with the other. She knew what questions to ask at the interview for the role, as she had worked in an off-licence.

Her career has taken many paths since, including working for Asda, Walmart Canada, Halfords and TOFs (Original Factory Shop), but it has now gone full circle - albeit the quality of the wine at Berry Bros is a bit better than it was back then.

The thing that draws all of the organisations together is the team of people she's worked with, and how they get things done and have fun. A real sense of getting things done willingly and well through others (something she learned from Asda legend Archie Norman), and taking the role seriously but not yourself. Enabling people to have fun at work is really important to Emma.

She has never really had a masterplan for her career, but she was always been driven and determined without knowing what the end result would be. She always wanted to do new roles and experience new things, which enabled her to spread her wings within large organisations like Bass and Asda.

She was prepared to take the risk on ex-pat assignments without worrying too much about what the next step was. She preferred to enjoy the now.

The best advice she's had was from David Cheesewright who ran Walmart International at the time. She'd been passed over for a couple of promotions, and was a little frustrated.

He asked for five minutes and said he had a real opportunity for her - he wanted her to be his logistics director.  Her first response was she didn't think she could do it as she'd never done logistics.

But what he wanted was her transferrable leadership skills, not logistics experience - it was about the how not the what. It was a real penny drop moment for Emma and something she uses all the time when speaking to women leaders in particular. Say yes and figure it out after.

By pushing herself out of her comfort zone it made her a better general manager - adding to her marketing and buying skills - making her a more rounded leader, which has held her in good stead ever since.

It was a risk, not knowing how she would cope - but a great lesson in life.

The gift she would give her younger self would be to be a bit more patient and be a bit calmer. Back then she was know as the Tasmanian Devil.

She recalls that great phrase: "To go fast go alone, to go further go together."

Bring people with you, and manage the urge to do everything now.

Wise words. 

If you enjoy listening to this podcast why not check out some of the others in season 1 & 2. Or perhaps you fancy taking part yourself? If so why not get in touch. You can find me via LinkedIn or Twitter