On International Women’s Day every year, the voices and stories of women across the world are celebrated, as we address the issues that cause gender inequality and diversity. But despite these issues remaining, such voices and stories take a backseat once the day is done.

We think it’s worth doing the opposite and actively challenging the issues that create these gaps in our industry. So, we’ve launched this weekly series, Wednesday Women, where we’ll profile the stories of the inspiring women in this great and wide industry.

Today we speak with Caroline Wood, Head of Marketing at Fever-Tree Australia, who first found herself in the drinks industry back in 2012.

Leaving behind the world of advertising to join Pernod Ricard as a Marketing Manager in Sweden, initially it was the opportunity to work on some big global brands with one of the worlds biggest spirits companies that drew Wood to the role, but it’s the vibrant nature of the industry that has kept her in drinks for so long.

“When I joined I really didn’t know what to expect, but I was working on Malibu and Kahlua in that initial role so it was the strength of the brands and the global aspect of the role that drew me to [the drinks industry],” she says.

“And the reason that I’ve stayed is that it’s such a fun industry, and a very collaborative industry. It attracts a certain type of person, and there is so much innovation going on within this industry.

In her role with Pernod Ricard, Wood enjoyed frequent travel, especially to the US, which she says was an interesting market with a lot of learnings.

“Working in different markets has been interesting to see the differences in set up, for example, the US has a much more complicated chain from brand to consumer through different distributors, whereas we have more of a duopoly here in Australia, and then we have the added dynamic of alcohol not always being sold in the same stores as mixers which makes it more complicated.

“It’s also interesting to see the different people that you meet and the way they approach things. All of it gives different learnings but having that experience with Pernod Ricard and the travel and exposure early on in my career was great.”

Originally from Scotland, Wood spent 12 years in Sweden before making the move to Sydney, drawn to the Australian lifestyle. Her first role in Australia was with Lion as Brand Manager, and later as Marketing Manager for Casella Family Brands.

In 2019, Wood joined Fever-Tree and has spent nearly five years as Head of Marketing for Fever-Tree Australia. Growing from just two employees in 2019 it has been quite the journey, and the diversity of the role has kept it interesting.

“I have quite a unique role here,” says Wood. “To head up marketing for drinks businesses here, a lot of the time you’re localising global assets and global strategy, whereas I’ve had a different experience building the Fever-Tree brand in Australia.

“I love the diversity of the role as we’ve evolved the business model and hired our own team over the past year. I also love the people and the fact that we collaborate with so many different spirits brands in the market.”

Right now, Wood is focusing on accelerating the growth of the Fever-Tree brand and driving awareness of the versatile range.

“We have such a range of great products – from tonics, sodas, gingers and now cocktail mixers – there is so much opportunity, it feels like it’s only the beginning for us here in Australia,” she says.

“The last 12 months have been the hardest but the most rewarding. Building a team up from just four of us a year ago to where we are now has been challenging with so many unknowns.

“There’s been a multitude of things that have popped up on this journey that I would never have experienced before, so as much as it’s been tough it’s been really rewarding, and that’s an attitude I’m trying to instill in my team as well – don’t think about what you did in your last role, but what you can learn in this role.”

As a woman with ambition, Wood says there are always challenges in all industries, but as time has gone on, she has learnt that support and education are two of the key elements in overcoming this.

“Historically drinks has probably been a more male dominated industry, but in my time in Australia I have observed a lot of improvements,” she added.

“The most important lesson I’ve learnt is to surround yourself with a supportive network both at work and outside. And education is key. We need to make sure our young leaders are supported in their career and life decisions.”

Reflecting on her career in the drinks industry, Wood explains that a lot of her success has come from having the confidence to take on new challenges, and she hopes to empower her team to take the same approach.

“It’s really important to be open minded to opportunities when they come along, and take risks. Sometimes things don’t work out, but you can always learn something from an experience.

“The drinks industry is a great industry to be a part of, especially here in Australia. We’ve got some really great brands and interesting people working in this industry, both the smaller, craft players and the bigger, international companies. Consumer choices are constantly evolving and that is reflected in the constant innovation and evolution we are seeing. Our industry has a really exciting future,” she concluded.

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