Sylvie Levesque

Sylvie Levesque

Sylvie Levesque

What were you job aspirations when you were at school?

I come from a family of small business owners, 5th generation retailers in Canada. I worked at my family’s store from the age of 13 and it was something that I really enjoyed. So I knew early on I wanted to get into business. I enjoyed seeing how things I did at the store could impact people’s willingness to buy. When I went to business school, Marketing was a natural progression for me. I always enjoyed the aspect of competition, results and goal setting that you have on the business side.

Who have been some of your role models in your Career?

I’ve had various different role models, certainly a few of my managers early on. One especially was a Dad with four children - seeing him be so involved in their lives but also very engaged at work was really inspiring to me. He was a person who took a real interest in his people, and their development. I also find people who have to battle adversity in their personal lives and can remain focused are role models also, and that's something you see almost everyday.

What's one leadership lesson you've learned in your career?

I was once struck by someone speaking on leadership when they said: if you don’t lead by example you’re not leading. I remember this really sticking with me. It's the responsibility of anyone in a management or leadership position to consider their behaviours, how they come to work and how they set their goals and drive the agenda. As we all know too well, it's not just what we achieve that's important, but how. As a leader you need to set an example rather than sit back and pay lip service.

What are, from your perspective, the biggest challenges for women in leadership roles?

The biggest one I believe is women being comfortable with how they allocate their time: work/life balance. You need to be comfortable that sometimes you won’t achieve perfection everywhere. That general theme I believe holds women back; we feel guilty or we compare ourselves to others who don't have the same circumstances. Only you can know what is the right balance for you, and more importantly, only you can set the boundaries you will be comfortable with at both work and home.

How can organisations recruit, retain and develop women leaders?

I believe encouraging diversity of thought, through discussion and debate is the biggest thing. Enabling different opinions to be heard, whether they are from women or others. Women are inherent communicators, and encouraging them to do so, gives them confidence. Secondly, I would say the flexibility of working arrangements. By being less tied to the constraints of set working hours, and instead setting accountabilities and deadlines to measure their success, women can focus on delivering on their commitments.

What do you love most about your role?

I love the industry. It’s a very social industry, and I get to learn about wine at work which is really great! I love that there are never two days the same. We have a variety of different challenges and projects that we are working on and I find that very stimulating. The other piece I love is to see people progress, I love to be able to see people develop in their roles and as a result be engaged in the success of their brands.

Favourite TWE wine?

We have the benefit of an extensive collection of wines within Penfolds so it's hard to choose, but Bin 389 is definitely one of my favourites. A skilful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, it is often called ‘baby Grange’ partly because it is matured in barrels that held previous vintages of Grange. Bin 389 is a classic Penfolds wine, absolutely beautiful aged, but also wonderful upon release.

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