The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), the global leader in education and qualification for wine and spirits, has named Michelle Brampton as its new CEO.
She joins the organization on Feb. 1 as CEO designate. She will spend two months working alongside current CEO Ian Harris, who steps down on April 15.
Previously, Brampton spent 19 years at Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), where she most recently held the role of Managing Director Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) from 2018 to 2021. During this time, she was also on the boards of both The Drinks Trust and the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).
Earlier at TWE, she gained international and commercial leadership experience as Commercial Director UK & Ireland and as CFO, EMEA and South East Asia.
“The Trustees are delighted that Michelle has accepted our invitation to lead the WSET in the coming years,” says Chair of the WSET Board, Simon McMurtrie. “Michelle’s track record at Treasury Wine Estates and, more recently, her wider role in the drinks trade, make her the ideal successor to Ian, following his remarkable 20 years as CEO.”
Speaking on the outgoing Harris, McMurtrie says, “Under Ian’s leadership, the WSET has experienced spectacular growth. When Ian joined the business in 2002, 10,000 students were enrolled annually — two thirds of them from the UK. In the last academic year over 108,000 students in 70 countries around the world took one of the WSET’s nine qualifications, with 87% from outside the UK. On behalf of the global drinks trade and all the WSET Trustees, past and present, I would like to pay tribute to Ian’s exceptional achievements.”
Harris had praise for his successor.
“I am really pleased to be passing the WSET baton into Michelle’s very capable hands,” he says. “With the breadth and depth of her experience, she will lead the organization into a new era of business growth, navigating WSET through today’s increasingly challenging global landscape. I have enjoyed every single day at WSET since I joined back in 2002. Thanks to the talented people in my team over the last two decades, we have overcome many challenges — particularly over the past two years. It has been my pleasure, and absolute privilege, to lead such a great organization. I will remain WSET’s most passionate ambassador.”
Alongside existing trustees, Simon McMurtrie (Chair), Dan Jago, Jo Locke and Allen Gibbons, WSET has also made four new appointments to its board. Miles Beale, Chief Executive, WSTA and Jo Thornton, Managing Director, Moet Hennessy Europe join as representatives of the Vintners’ Company. Lulie Halstead, CEO, Wine Intelligence and Sukhinder Singh, Managing Director, The Whisky Exchange join as representatives of the WSTA. They all join with immediate effect. They take over from Troy Christensen, Rick Connor, Susan McCraith and Michael Turner, who have come to the end of their successful terms as trustees.
“I am thrilled and honored to be asked to lead such a globally renowned and respected organization as the WSET,” Brampton says. “I am passionate about the drinks trade and believe that education is a true enabler for success for both individuals and businesses. I am looking forward to getting to know the team and leading the organization through its next chapter.”