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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Global Wine Business Conference

14 05 2012

At the end of April I attended the first ever Global Wine Business Conference organised by Sonoma State University with leading wine business academics from all over the world. Read the press release.

I’ll try and write more on this anon as it was very interesting. As well as presentations from all the participants on the status of the wine industry in their countries, we looked at the core competencies and skills needed by a wine business professional nowadays. As a Master of Wine it was a bit of an eye-opener to be told that wine knowledge is not the most important skill to have. Actually to be honest my business experience, including ten years at Waitrose and setting up my own company had already taught me that, but more later…