Brown scales new horizon in male-dominated field
Driven by her passion to succeed, Michelle Brown is blazing new horizons in the wines and spirits industry.
Brown recently earned a landmark promotion within Campari Group as the new commercial director in Jamaica. She will continue leading J. Wray & Nephew's (JWN) sales thrust in the Caribbean, while assuming greater responsibilities in her substantive Jamaican portfolio.
This advance in the male-dominated area of sales is significant and represents a quantum leap for Brown in the context that she is the first female appointee with overall responsibilities for this very demanding portfolio.
"I'm moved by the confidence in me that the business has demonstrated with this new role, and thrilled by the example it provides for young women in sales," Brown shared.
"The truth is that I was inspired to join the JWN team because of Joy Spence, the world's first female master blender."
Spence, a pioneer whose 35th anniversary at JWN was recognised with the personalised, limited-edition special JOY, has won numerous accolades in the wines and spirits industry, both globally and at home, where she was conferred with national honours, the Order of Distinction, at both Officer and Commander Class.
Brown, at the relatively young age of 34, is blazing her own trail. Prior to joining JWN, she held several roles in sales, including category development manager, in South Africa.
Importantly, she will guide her decisions with lessons from the past, as reflected in her response to a query regarding steps that will follow her promotion.
"The same as it does when looking at my career over time - focus on what's important in your role and try not to get distracted by societal norms or expectations; work hard and deliver the results," explained Brown.
"Everything else will come as a consequence of performance," added Brown, who attended Williams Preparatory before advancing to St Andrew High School for Girls.
She continued her educational journey at Ithaca College, New York, earning a bachelor's in economics, while also doing a minor in computer science; before elevating to Yorkshire's University of Bradford, where she successfully completed a master's in finance.
It has provided a solid base and strong acumen for detail, which is both critical in assessing and conquering the marketplace.
"I started my career in analysis so the details are crucial to understanding how to capitalise on market trends," analysed Brown.
"However, your gut, being in front of your customers often and caring about your team are all of paramount importance," she added, noting the benefits of that personal feel which comes from face-to-face links with customers.
"Our key objective is to entice consumers to drink our brands. This will drive sales for us and profit for our customers," she said.
"We are sales, the heartbeat of the business, the pacesetters for the game. For me, we drive the business forward, supported by our marketing partners, and the rest of the organisation."
Brown admitted enjoying the regional channel and is also encouraged by the reception of JWN brands.
"The Caribbean is a vibrant, fun, and passionate marketplace," she said. "I absolutely love promoting our home-grown Jamaican brands like Appleton Estate, and Campari is on fire regionally as well."
FUELLED BY PASSION
Of course, passion makes the experience easier and Brown, who "loves travel and dancing, even when there's no music", has found the job fit for her personality.
"I don't seek work-life balance," she explains. "I seek work-life blending; seeing where work and life can intersect so that you are happy."
Brown added: "Focus, fun, and family are the three pillars of my motivation. If one is off balance then I'm not at my best."
Pillars intact, Brown has managed to maintain her balance to earn pioneer transition, which serves as part of Campari Group's global talent management and succession planning programmes.
"All the research these days points to how diversity drives high performance among teams, so I think that highlighting women and infusing them at higher levels in our businesses is the way forward," she noted.
"Women are capable already. Organisations need to allow them to lead in their unique way."