Posted: Jan 03, 2018
Margareth Henriquez, 61, became president of Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy's Estates Wine Division on Jan. 1, 2018, after serving as president of Krug Champagne for nine years. Now, she is not only of Krug, Veuve Clicquot, Moet & Chandon and Hennessy, but also other top brands, including Cheval des Andes and Cloudy Bay.
What were your early years growing up in Venezuela like?
“When I was young, I was very determined. I have always been passionate, and I put much love and enthusiasm into everything, just as I do today.”
How has your education and background affected the way you manage?
“My education was very broad in all senses. My parents were always very social and global people. Three religions and many nationalities coexisted in my family without any problem. My family was respectful and generous, as I always try to be. So, yes, my background has very much impacted my management style.”
What is your leadership style?
“I am a systems engineer. I began and continue to focus on creating very strong and good energy around all of my projects.
“I manage in the same way I would have loved to be managed. I am close to people. I do not believe in hierarchy…I try to have the teams make my project theirs, always listening to others and adjusting by considering others’ opinions. I like to share my ideas to make sure at the end the whole organization believes in them and altogether build the success. I never think or talk about me, but I do always talk and think about us.
Describe your career path before Krug.
“After I completed my degree, I started my career in Venezuela. Then in 1986, I went from systems into marketing. In 1989, I moved to become general manager of a spirits company, producing mainly rum that was owned by Seagrams. In 1991 I was appointed president of Seagram of Venezuela. In 1995, I went to Harvard for the advanced management program and then moved to Mexico, where I arrived as president of biscuit company Nabisco Mexico and led a successful turnaround. ”
How did you end up in wine?
“I took a year out to take care of my family, and at the end, I joined LVMH and went to Argentina as president of all properties of Moët Hennessy in Argentina. We went through the financial crisis successfully and then in 2008 I was invited to run Krug.”
When you want to hire new people to work at Krug what are you looking for?
“I look for the technical skills and personal ones. We want people to share our love, and passion for excellence, to be generous and share with others and to love to work in teams. We like self-determined and independent collaborators. We are small and we need people delivering and feeling responsible for what they do.”
You had a major Champagne brand to nurture. When you arrived at Krug, what did you think needed to be done?
“Krug was suffering and lost sales in 2008 and 2009. I realized I was in a truly luxury house and the approach had nothing to do with the mass market which was my experience.
“In the first year, I felt I failed in not understanding the right approach to turn around the house. Failure teaches you that you are alive and shows to you what not to do. We reconnected with our roots, and today we know why we exist and where we want to go.”
Did you succeed?
“We transformed completely the way we talk about ourselves. We added modernity using digital and music as part of our communication. Today, Krug is both prestigious and contemporary, and the results are fantastic.”
While LVMH does not release results for each of its 70 properties, its Champagne sales had slipped to 57.6 million bottles in 2008, according to Statista. In 2016, those sales had climbed to 63.2 million bottles, according to the company’s annual report.
“I can happily say that Krug is a house where everything has changed, and nothing has changed at all. Champagnes we drink today were created far before this change started.”
You are taking on a new job as well as your existing one. What are your plans?
“It is too early to say. My plan is to listen and listen and listen.”
By Roger Voss
December 2, 2018
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