Ever heard someone use the expression, “well, it’s not for everbody” when describing a certain activity? It is based on the concept that each of us through our personal traits and talents are inclined to be drawn toward certain activities. The same theme applies to the types of careers we’re drawn to. Ever dealt with a grumpy, less than helpful salesperson or clerk? Disagreeable business professional of any type? Chances are it wasn’t entirely their fault. They may very well have been in a job that was not the right fit for them and so no matter what, they were set up for failure from the beginning. I have come to realize that many people who are responsible for compliance work at wineries but do NOT like it have those feelings simply because they are not the “compliance-type”. There are definite traits and skills that make a person well suited to do well and enjoy (YES, enjoy) managing a compliance system.

Enjoy AND compliance in the same statement you ask? Yes, a definite possibility I respond. Having experienced it firsthand at a number of wineries over the years and assisted others with assembling their own systems into effective and therefore enjoyable ones being the basis for this. Winery compliance work is most definetely not for everyone but there are certain traits and talents that are indicators of whether or not a person is the right fit for it.
First of those indicators is probably a predictable one, organizational skills. Compliance requires that from the get go. Someone to whom attention to detail comes naturally and who actually enjoys taking messes and cleaning them up is a serious contender for a compliance position. (regardless of their work background otherwise)  The next trait on the list is having an interest in numbers and statistics. I have a history of liking math back to my elementary school times tables days and was one of those students who liked the word problem section of a math exam. (To see an example of the fun I have with numbers and statistics related to wine take a look at my “Fun Facts” page) Tracking all the details related to winemaking is numbers, numbers, numbers. Those numbers combined tell a story about the wines which is very valuable data to the winery owner, the CFO, the winemaker, the marketing department and the tasting room. The person who manages those numbers should have an interest in them as well, which means an interest in seeing them kept up properly but also an interest in knowing and talking about what those numbers are. Examples? “Hey, did you know we harvested 86 tons of chardonnay this year? That’s the highest number we’ve ever brought in!” Or, “That wine from one year to the next is a blend of 5 or 6 varietals, but the percentages of each change”. Or, “Our annual bottling totals have increased 62% over the past 5 years!”. These are just a few examples of the types of data that live in a winery compliance system’s records.

The last characteristic I’ll point out as a good one for anyone in a compliance position to have is diplomacy. In managing a compliance system you are interacting with a wide range of people. Representatives from the various governmental agencies that regulate the wine industry, personnel at off site facilities where wine is shipped to/stored/purchased, grape growers at harvest, truck drivers throughout the year, graphic artists and printers for wine labels, and of course the various staff/departments I referred to above. Having good diplomatic skills goes a long way in maintaining successful and cooperative relationships in any environment, but for winery compliance they often are key.

My suggestion to any winery looking to hire for a compliance position is to consider these areas I have discussed and how they relate specifically to the dynamics of their site and the position itself. Then use that assessment to come up with the interview questions. Doing so will give them a much better chance at matching them and the interview candidate with a “perfect fit” match.

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