Wine Australia’s CEO explains changes to leadership team

May 28, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Wine Australia has announced several changes to its senior leadership team, including the appointment of Shirley Fraser as General Manager of Customer Engagement, Ned Hewitson as General Manager Regulation & General Counsel, and Dr Liz Waters as Chief Operating Officer.

The changes come at “a really very important time for us in terms of strategy and governance,” Wine Australia’s CEO Martin Cole told Drinks Trade. 

“Rachel Triggs moved on about five or six months ago. Steven Weinert, who was our Chief Operating Officer, he’s moved on. And so it was an opportunity to do a bit of a restructure.”

Shirley Fraser has been appointed Wine Australia’s General Manager of Customer Engagement, bringing with her experience working in roles such as the International Marketing & Sales Manager at Sorby Adams Wines and as CEO of Wine Industry Suppliers Australia (WISA). 

Martin Cole describes Fraser as being “high energy, well-networked, very well-trusted.” 

In her new role, Fraser will be responsible for handling strategic leadership and management of all customer engagement, corporate affairs, public relations and communications. Cole says that this will involve “making sure we’re customer-focused, getting our programs out there more to the sector [and] building relationships.”

Liz Waters has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer after more than a decade of successfully managing Wine Australia’s research and innovation portfolio. 

“So she’s coming in and doing the chief operating role, really managing that strategy,” said Cole.

“We’re just about to go into a new five-year strategy, so taking on board a consultation from the One Sector Plan, the Minister’s Task Force, and then really putting that into the next five-year strategy, which will be really important for us, but more important and very important for the industry too. 

“It’s a really very important time for us in terms of strategy and governance, so fantastic for her to have a promotion.”

The third change to Wine Australia’s leadership team is Ned Hewitson’s appointment as General Manager Regulation & General Counsel following previous roles as General Manager and Legal Counsel.

According to the CEO, “that regulatory services area is critically important for us, particularly with new markets opening up, so we’re very excited that Ned’s taken that role. He’s been doing it for the last five months, done an excellent job.”

“We’ve also got Naomi Verdonk on full-time. She’s doing a fantastic job in market access, got a great background in that space.

“We’ll be chairing the World Wine Trade Group in October, but reconnecting on OIV [International Organisation of Vine and Wine] and those very important international organizations that really are a chance to talk globally around market access. Market access is critical to us because if you haven’t got that, you haven’t got a business, so we’re very pleased that Ned and Naomi and the team there are a very strong team,” said Cole.

Wine Australia has said the announced changes will support the strengthening of service delivery to levy payers.

“So those changes, I’m pretty confident – will be the right people to lead those initiatives in the next coming strategy cycle,” said Cole. 

Drinks Trade caught up with Martin Cole today at Vinexpo Asia 2024. More content from that interview will be published soon.

Share the content