Staff Stories

Our staff come from diverse backgrounds. One thing they have in common: they are passionate about what they do and the part they play in Bibendum’s success. If you're interested in joining them, please take a look at the latest Bibendum jobs at the Conviviality Careers website.

Julia Bailey, Trainer

Julia Bailey Staff StoriesI can’t claim that when I was younger I always dreamed of being a wine trainer, but it really has turned out to be a dream job. Whenever someone asks what I do they are fascinated (and often insanely jealous) that I get paid to travel around the country to talk about and taste wine.

So how did I get to where I am now?

I trained as a journalist before moving into the wine trade, and I worked in a few other companies in the trade before settling at Bibendum. Starting out in the On Trade Support Team I progressed through three different roles there before I found my calling in the Customer Training Team. Bibendum’s quick career progression was certainly the case for me, as after 18 months in the company I was already on my fourth role.

No day working as a trainer is ever the same; I can be waking up anywhere in the country and delivering various types of training from in-house bespoke wine courses to WSET sessions. I work with a wide spectrum of the business from hotels, off trade customers, restaurant groups, bars, catering groups and fine dining establishments too. I find people fascinating and even if the content of the day is the same as before, the personalities in the room always bring the session to life and make sure it’s never repetitive or tedious.

The most rewarding part of my job is turning around a trainee who comes in with a scowl and professes to hate wine, and by the end of the day they are smiling and have found a wine or two they enjoy. Sometimes it’s challenging, and it’s definitely the most physically and mentally exhausting job I’ve ever done, but I genuinely love it. In just 6 hours I can change someone’s entire perception of wine and it can really make a difference to how they do their job.

Bibendum is a really great company to work for. The atmosphere on the one hand is really laid back, but there is a strong work ethic and a determination to drive the company forward too. The people really make the company, and I’ve never worked with such a fun loving and friendly group of individuals. The fact that I don’t have to wear a suit to work is also a massive bonus.

Andy Sparrow, National Account Manager

Andy Sparrow BibendumAfter thirty years service with British Airways, in a variety of roles from Cabin Crew through to Wine Buyer and then Menu Development Manager, it was great to join Bibendum and get back to my favourite subject, wine.

While a BA Cabin Crew I had completed all the WSET qualifications and moved to their Catering division as joint Wine Buyer working with consultants Michael Broadbent, Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. On occasions it could be a little tiring hearing about all of the amazing wines they had tasted, but I had my revenge one day after a kind supplier brought along a magnum of 1961 Chateau Latour for lunch, leading Hugh Johnson (a director of Latour at the time) to exclaim in amazement “Chateau Latour 61!  For lunch?! ..... In magnum?!”

Bibendum is the supplier of all BA First Class wine and Champagne, and we also supply a large number of products for Carnival Cruises, so I have to stay aware of market trends and find the best possible wines that fit my customer’s requirements. This means lots of research, networking and tasting, together with the odd bit of travel. I love the variety in my job as every day is different.

Whilst at Bibendum, I’ve travelled with journalists to New York on behalf of BA to taste wines in-flight and see the differences at altitude; as well as undertaking many trips around the world to find new wines for BA. London may be the centre of the world wine business, but it’s amazing how a personal visit can unlock parcels of great wine that are right for our customers’ needs. After my long career at BA, it is great to still be working with them as I am keen to give them the very best wines for their customers.

I’ve been working for Bibendum for nearly five years now and from a one-man band we now have four dedicated people working in Travel Retail, delivering multi-million pound sales annually. I’ve known Bibendum since my BA Buying days way back in 1993 and I was really excited when they wanted to talk to me about joining them to develop their Travel Retail plans. I’ve always liked the company ethos of doing things a bit differently, supported with a great range of wines and being thoroughly professional. It’s wonderful to be part of a successful wine company that is really going places and I hope to stay here until retirement beckons.

Company No. 2550982 | 109a Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR | Call: 0845 263 6924 | AWRS Number: XVAW00000101595

Drink Aware - know the facts