The MW versus the Wine MBA

13 06 2012

I lectured on the Wine MBA at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester for four years and I passed the MW in 1994, so I have a pretty good view of the differences in the two qualifications.

Here is a quick summary:

– the MW with its low pass rate is still the most prestigious qualification
– the MW is harder to pass. You have to get 65% on all papers whereas the passmark for postgraduate level is 50%.
– not sure of the cost of the MW these days but the Wine MBA is £9000 for 15 month course (ending with 25,000 word dissertation)
– the MW is focused solely on wine, once you have it it is difficult to do anything else
– the Wine MBA is much broader and the skills are more transferable
– MWs have more technical knowledge but not as much commercial

When I worked at Waitrose (famous at one stage for only wanting MWs as buyers) I remember a new boss saying how rare it is to get people who truly combine wine knowledge with commercial skills. It is often said that having an MW doesn’t necessarily make you a good businessman/woman. In reality this depends on an individual’s background and experience. A Wine MBA will give the business skills and a good level of wine knowledge but not to the same standard as an MW.

The MW can get you to Director level in a wine company but in a supermarket it could well limit your progression to Head of the wine department due to its specialist nature. So it depends on your ambitions.

There is a lot to be said for doing both. Papers 4 and 5 in the MW exam would certainly be a lot easier once you’ve done the MBA…



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