THIS week’s My Kind of Job is Seana Hackett, owner and chief wine tutor at Belfast Wine School – a new independent wine education company.
What’s your job?
Owner and chief wine tutor at the Belfast Wine School – an exciting new concept in wine education coming to Northern Ireland.
How did you get there?
I lived in France for six months when I was 21, beside the Rhone Valley, where my passion for wine really began. This passion has increased throughout my career, especially during my years working with Diageo where I got to learn all about, not only wine, but the industry as a whole.
Over the years I have studied and completed countless qualifications, achieving Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) credentials. A chance-encounter with the Local Wine School led to discussions on the opening of the first Local Wine School in Ireland, which I jumped at, and haven’t looked back since.
Do you have a typical working day?
No, and that is one thing that I am learning to love. I could spend some days organising courses or dealing with the logistics of upcoming classes, while the next day I am meeting with potential clients, replying to customer enquiries or updating my website and social media pages.
What qualifications do you have?
I initially graduated with a degree in Modern Languages and Linguistics, however I have more recently gained a WSET diploma. At present I am currently studying towards becoming a WSET Educator.
What other skills do you need in your role?
Passion and enthusiasm about wine and finding enjoyment in communicating this to others are essential skills. You need to be a people person, as well as being a motivated self-starter, especially as there are so many areas you need to be aware of and keep in check to enable everything to flow smoothly.
What’s the best thing about your job?
One of the perks of this new adventure is the flexibility I have gained, I am able to work on creating a nice work/life balance. The flexibility of the role allows me to work around my family and organise courses or events around important dates in my family calendar.
And the worst?
Although it is one of the perks, the flexibility I have gained can also be a downside as it can be difficult to know when to ‘turn off’. The flexibility of the role doesn’t necessarily mean that I have a lot of time on my hands as the response has been amazing. In a 9-5 job you know that you clock off at 5pm, however with this type of role it is hard to switch off, and there have been numerous times when I find myself replying to emails at 10pm.
What do you think are the greatest challenges/pressures of the job?
Having good organisational skills is a definite must have for this job as one of the greatest challenges is constantly having so many balls in the air. On a weekly basis, I am always on the lookout for new ideas, organising new classes, interacting with key industry people as well as having to keep ahead on social media and update my website, although my daughter is a whizz on the technology side of things and sometimes helps me out there.
This is all the front of the business, in the background I am also keeping up with the admin and financial duties that keep a business running from day to day.
What did you want to be when you were at school?
I think I changed my mind every day – from banking to teaching, but I always had a love for languages and I suppose in a funny way, this has helped me get to where I am today.
What advice would you give someone considering a career in your profession?
Go for it. If you have a passion and enthusiasm that you are able to combine with your career, then go for it. Do your research, make the contacts and then take the leap. For me, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have embarked on.
What’s the most common question people ask when they find out what you do?
What’s the best wine!
How do you like to relax outside work?
If I am not spending quality time with my husband and my children, then you can find me relaxing with a big glass of wine, of course. Anything from Riesling to Rioja, depending on my mood.
:: The Belfast Wine School will host its classes at two popular Belfast City Centre locations, The Mac and Bullitt Hotel. Tastings and courses are available to book now – For further information about Belfast Wine School, visit www.belfastwineschool.com.