Many successful people in business had a mentor in their career who assisted them to reach their full potential and provide them with sound, honest guidance. Mentorship provides a knowledgeable sound board and is a source of experienced advice to propel growth in a mentees’ journey. The SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU) believes in the positive effect of mentorship, and asked Berene Sauls and Anthony Hamilton Russell to share their journey as encouragement to others.
When Anthony Hamilton Russell, owner of Hamilton Russell Wines, appointed Berene Sauls as au pair for his four daughters in 2001, he quickly realized her ambition and talents were wasted and encouraged her to apply for a position in his wine company.
With his vast experience of running the wine farm for the last 30 years, as well as his background in investment banking and management consulting, Anthony mentored Berene and steered her towards developing a career in the wine industry.
Berene’s interest in wine was ignited by the wine tastings and presentations Anthony exposed her to. His faith in her abilities gave her the edge she needed to take the plunge of creating her own wine brand. “She clearly had the drive, ambition, intelligence and overall work ethic to make a success of her own wine brand and take it even further towards land ownership” says Anthony.
“In 2014 Anthony approached me with an opportunity to wholly own my own business as a wine producer with the expert winemaking skills of Emul Ross who joined our team in that same year”, says Berene. “It is a team effort from which I am still learning, sound boarding and getting guidance from to develop and steer my professional career.”
Berene started at the bottom and worked her way to the top, gaining experience in marketing, packaging, export logistics, wine administration and certification before mastering the art of winemaking and the sensory evaluation of wine. This gives her the competitive edge she uses to advance her business.
“Her skills and personality gave me little doubt that she would be able to get a wine both made and sold at a profitable price. Most people starting out focus entirely on production, and however important it is, this is by far not the only criterion for success,” says Anthony.
Berene has been inspired by Anthony’s mentorship and pays it forward by developing the skills of the ladies who are working with her in the packaging logistics division. “Once my property in Tesselaarsdal in the Overberg is developed, I would like to offer someone else the same opportunities I had. That is my ultimate goal,” says Berene.