She took the helm at the beginning of the pandemic in March, and as such has been working in isolation ever since and hasn’t actually met the rest of the team yet. But Kylie Lethbridge, the new General Manager of the Independent Brewers Association (IBA) isn’t letting that slow her down.
Here, we get to know a bit about Lethbridge both personally and professionally, and find out how she would like to use her new role to best support Australia’s independent brewers.
NLN: Kylie, can you tell us about yourself?
KYLIE: I’ve had a successful career spanning 25 years in ministerial support teams, communications and marketing, and economic development within local and state government. I have also owned my own business and held multiple board directorships, won awards for leadership and have a passion for relationship management and facilitating change.
NLN: What attracted you to the IBA role?
KYLIE: I have spent most of my career supporting and advocating for small business. I have worked overseas and travelled extensively and now want to work at the coal face for an industry that I am passionate about.
This role came at a time when I was looking for a new adventure in an industry I care about. I’m also a long term indie beer drinker, so feel extremely privileged to be working with such a dedicated team on behalf of our Aussie brewers.
NLN: What are you excited to do at the IBA?
KYLIE: I am super excited about the way forward for the IBA. The organisation has gone through significant change over the last couple of years and is kicking goals and evolving in its sophistication as a representative body. I work for an amazing Board and with the best team possible so feel like a kid in a lolly shop every single day; there is just so much to do and it’s all exciting.
NLN: How has COVID-19 changed your job?
KYLIE: I haven’t actually met the IBA crew in person yet! I have been working from home since I started in March and although technology is fantastic, I thrive off face-to-face teamwork. I am, however, thankful we can push on to support our members, some of which are going through really tough times.
NLN: What do you think your challenges will be in this role once we return to life as normal?
KYLIE: I think our greatest opportunity is to ensure consumers understand indie beer. We can do that by finding innovative ways to compete with ‘the big guys’ for market share while at the same time embracing the new players.
It would also be remiss of me not to mention our greatest challenge: excise tax. Australia has one of the highest taxes on beer in the world at 45 per cent, which is considerably higher than winemakers. A reduction would be the single biggest game changer for breweries. We need to convince our government colleagues that they are hurting, not enabling this rapidly growing industry. All we are asking for is a level playing field, nothing more.
NLN: What do you do when you’re not at work?
KYLIE: I live in a rural area about an hour out of Melbourne so I spend a lot of time outdoors; walking the dog in some of our amazing bushland, hanging out with my horse and taking advantage of the amazing array of food, wine, brewery and gin experiences on my doorstep.