The drinks industry gathered last night to raise a glass to retiring drinks association CEO Sandra Przibilla.
Lion’s Sydney CBD headquarters played host to industry identities and leaders, who toasted Przibilla with Lion’s beer portfolio, along with drinks donated by Treasury Wine Estates, Accolade, Moet Hennessy Australia, Pernod Ricard and Casella Wines.
Przibilla has been CEO of the drinks association for more than 10 years. Among her achievements have been the establishment of the Women in drinks and Diversity & Inclusion Councils, creating drinks trade magazine, the institution of the Australian drinks Awards, the Serendis Mentoring Program and the Industry Trade Survey.
Chair Ralph Dunning addressed the crowd: “How do you do justice to such a long and substantial contribution – both to the association and to the industry as a whole?”
Dunning noted that under Przibilla’s leadership the association had grown from seven to 28 member companies, with services building from five to 11, plus seven new forums and council.
“All these aspects, services and contributions to industry have been fiercely prosecuted by Sandra – yes, agreed strategies with the board – but driven relentlessly by Sandra,” Dunning said.
“I know Sandra would like me to acknowledge the teams of people she has had around her to assist in the delivery of these achievements. But her leadership and rather staggering amount of industry advice and mentoring undertaken over the years will be an enduring hallmark of her time at the association.”
On a more personal note, Dunning told Przibilla how much he had enjoyed working with her.
“I have loved your commitment and have found your drive for success infectious. I’ve loved our catch ups and the great fun you have brought to our meetings. I value our friendship very much and hope that the next stage of your life brings all that you wish for.
“I know I speak for those in the room by saying that your contribution, both industry wise and personally, has been immense and that you will be sorely missed by all.”
Przibilla looks to the future
Przibilla joined Dunning at the podium, where she noted: “It’s interesting, I thought about how I might feel tonight, and I have to say I don’t feel sad, not at all. I’ve had a wonderful career in the industry since I joined.
“It was a big step to join drinks… within a blink of the eye two years had gone and we were pretty much still where we were, but I thought no, with some energy and the right people in my corner we can really make this thing work. And we did!
“So as much as you’ve all said thank you to me, I have to say thank you to everyone who’s ever served on the drinks board.
“Also, thank you to everyone who has contributed, supported me, has never ever closed their doors on me. They put up with my harassment, my constant SMS’s, my midnight emails … And simply that level of support is what got us over the line.”
Przibilla said she was leaving the drinks association in safe hands: “I do have to say, Georgia Lennon’s appointment as CEO – with Rachel Wormald by her side as Business Manager – is absolutely fantastic. I look at it and I think, you’ve got this wonderful business to take to that next level and you’re just the right people to do it.
“I want to thank you all. You’ve all played a really important role. The industry and the association really became a dominant piece of who I was. Enjoy your journeys and I really hope you’re as lucky as me to work with fantastic people and do fantastic things!”
Here are some photographs from the night: