By Andy Young
The current crop of rising stars in Australian winemaking are being encouraged to ditch their modesty and apply to be a Future Leader of the winemaking community.
The industry funded leadership development program for the grape and wine sector, Future Leaders, aims to recognise and foster the leadership potential of the community's next generation.
The Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) is encouraging individuals in the grape and wine sector to give "a tap on the shoulder" to potential applicants for Future Leaders.
A spokesperson for AGWA told TheShout: "We have so much talent coming up through the ranks of our grape growing and winemaking community and we want them to be able to hear from past Future Leader participants to encourage them not to let modesty put them off from applying.
"The only way to ensure the continued success and profitability of this industry is to keep unearthing the future talent."
The Future Leaders program is funded by the industry and coordinated by AGWA. It will be offered to 15 applicants with "open, creative, inquisitive minds who are early- to mid-career and already demonstrating leadership potential".
The program has been running for 10 years and has already produced 75 alumni, ranging from winemakers, grape growers and viticulturists to business managers, marketers, suppliers and researchers.
Tom Ward, Swinging Bridges’ winemaker, who was part of the third Future Leaders intake in 2009, said that for him the program was life changing.
"I’ve been very lucky – I have been to university and I have been part of the Len Evans Tutorial but Future Leaders was the biggest game changer for me," Ward said.
"It taught us to run our businesses well, to be strategic in the workplace, but also to expand our thinking beyond day-to-day issues.
"I wouldn’t be where I am without the Future Leaders program."
Katherine Brown from Brown Brothers and 2012 graduate added that encouraging people to get involved is particularly important in smaller regions where it can be hard to find mentors or develop networks.
"I took so much out of the program. You’re sharing time and ideas with winemakers, viticulturists, marketers and administrators from all states and from companies big and small, and these are people who care about the industry and where they want it to go.
"Everyone I speak with is positive about it. There’s a feeling not only that we need more younger leaders in the industry but also that we need to expose younger people to concepts that challenge their thinking and allow them to look outside the industry for ideas and strategies."
The successful applicants will commence a six-month program in June, including four face-to-face sessions across the country.
For more information visit and to "tap someone on the shoulder" visit, www.futureleaders15.com. Applications will now close on Tuesday, 17 March 2015.