Michelle Brampton has been appointed the new CEO of Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and will step into the position at the beginning of February, replacing Ian Harris who has served as CEO for 20 years.
Ms Brampton joins the organisation after 19 years with Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), where she held her most recent role as Managing Director Europe, Middle East and Africa from 2018 to 2021. She has held positions on the boards of both The Drinks Trust and Wine & Spirits Trade Association and gained valuable international, commercial and leadership experience in earlier roles as Commercial Director UK & Ireland and as CFO, EMEA and South East Asia at TWE.
She said, “I am thrilled and honoured to be asked to lead such a globally renowned and respected organisation as the WSET. I am passionate about the drinks trade and believe that education is a true enabler for success for both individuals and businesses. I am looking forward to getting to know the team and leading the organisation through its next chapter.”
Chair of the WSET Board, Simon McMurtrie, said, “Michelle’s track record at Treasury Wine Estates and, more recently, her wider role in the drinks trade makes her the ideal successor to Ian, following his remarkable 20 years as CEO”.
Under Mr Harris’s leadership, the WSET experienced spectacular growth. When he was appointed CEO in 2002, 10,000 students enrolled annually – two-thirds of them from the UK. In the last academic year, over 108,000 students in 70 countries worldwide took one of the WSET’s nine qualifications, with 87 per cent from outside the UK. Since 1969 nearly one million individuals have gained a WSET qualification.
Harris said he had enjoyed every single day at WSET since he joined back in 2002 and thanked the talented people in his team over the last two decades.
“We have overcome many challenges – particularly over the past two years. It has been my pleasure and absolute privilege to lead such a great organisation. I will remain WSET’s most passionate ambassador,” Mr Harris said.
Harris said he was pleased to be passing the WSET baton to Brampton.
“With the breadth and depth of her experience, she will lead the organisation into a new era of business growth, navigating WSET through today’s increasingly challenging global landscape,” said Harris.
Established in 1969, WSET is the leading global provider of wine, spirits and sake qualifications and offers qualifications across four levels, from one-day beginner courses to an expert level diploma. Courses are available in more than 15 languages and over 70 countries and open to professionals and enthusiasts.
Alongside existing trustees, Simon McMurtrie (Chair), Dan Jago, Jo Locke and Allen Gibbons, WSET has also made four new appointments to its Board. Miles Beale, Chief Executive, WSTA and Jo Thornton, Managing Director, Moet Hennessy Europe, join as representatives of the Vintners’ Company. Lulie Halstead, CEO, Wine Intelligence and Sukhinder Singh, Managing Director, The Whisky Exchange, join as representatives of the WSTA. They all join with immediate effect. They take over from Troy Christensen, Rick Connor, Susan McCraith and Michael Turner, who have ended their successful terms as trustees.