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HR Manager At A Winery: The Perfect Job?

Nick Mellow AFAIM, HR manager at Taylors Wines in South Australia, is a wine lover with a passion for people management. He says he has the perfect job.

Nick Mellow explains his career journey for Leadership Matters.

On the job

I’ve been with Taylors Wines for five years. There are 160 employees across the organisation and about 100 at the winery in South Australia’s Clare Valley. I’m based at the winery and I have three direct reports. I look after risk management as well as traditional functions such as recruitment, employee relations and performance management.

First job

I started my working life as a boilermaker/welder. I did that for about seven years, then became an aircraft technician in the air force. My last job in boilermaking was working on submarine platforms, welding stainless-steel pipelines. The unions were very militant, very adversarial. I remember thinking ‘How could we do this better?’ I had a real passion for people management and got into HR with Woolworths Supply Chain in 2004. I had done some study and was lucky enough to be given the opportunity.

Management style

I like to work with people to make sure they’re clear on what we’re trying to achieve. I give them all the support I can, but also try to stay out of their way so they can achieve. I like to give people a fair bit of autonomy. That’s how I’ve been treated over my time in HR and it’s enabled me to thrive.

“The best leaders are clear about who they are and what they stand for – and let other people be themselves.”

Greatest challenge

I’ve only had 10 years in the profession and my challenge has been gaining self-confidence, but I have a lot of life skills. You have to be able to relate those skills to new situations.

Strong leadership

I think the best leaders are clear about who they are and what they stand for – and let other people be themselves.

Team-focused

I couldn’t do without my team. They’ve risen to the challenge of what we’re trying to achieve, to decentralise our systems and processes. You rely on good people to make sure that can happen.

Among the vines

I love wine. I grew up in country South Australia and it’s a privilege to live and raise a family in a small community. Taylors is an inspiring brand and sometimes, when I walk around the vintage and see what’s happening with the winemaking team, it’s hard to force myself back into the office.

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