This Was One of the Hardest Things I’ve Ever Done. Here’s Why It Was Worth It. (Probably.)

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Not gonna lie.

It was tough.

Catching and holding the attention of 45 students at a time, last week in Bordeaux, as part of an MBA program in wine business. My commitment was for nine hours with one group of 45 students and then to repeat those nine hours, back to back, for another 45 students.

I tried. My goodness, I tried. And I did not always succeed.

Not gonna lie about that either.

But I’m writing about it today as a follow up to an Enolytics 101 post a few weeks ago about “gifting” these students, and other wine business students I’ll teach this year, with a year’s worth of access to a very powerful data visualization platform called Qlik.

How did that go?

It caught their interest. Which, as I wrote above, was really hard to do. But this did. I wanted to share a few reasons why, because I think they say a lot about the next generation of wine business professionals. Specifically, I think these reasons speak to both the promises and the challenges that these people face as they step into their roles at wine businesses around the world.

Here goes, in terms of what caught students’ interest about the data visualization module of the class:

  • They have a chance to do something that other people in their companies don’t know how to do. They can learn a tool that adds unique value. And they can learn it for free.

  • The European Union itself has already bought into big data for the wine industry, namely by funding a project called Big Data Grapes that’s part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. (Sidebar: My talking about this project raised eyebrows. Literally. The students were surprised in part, I think, because the funding of the project “brought it home” to their own backyards. I wasn’t up there talking about something that was happening in some far-off hub of technology that has no bearing on the lives and the world that’s most familiar to them. This was real, it’s within reach, and it could impact them directly.)

  • Innovation in wine business can have social impact too, whether the innovation impacts communities in crises or small, family-run businesses or the under-representation of women in the industry.

  • 90% of all information is consumed visually. 70% of all sensory receptors are in the eyes. And 30% of the brain’s processing power is dedicated to sight.

Is it easy to catch and hold the interest of young professionals in the wine business? Nope. But if you can, and when you do, their imaginations take off.

Watching that happen comes close – real close – to compensating for how exhausting the efforts are in the first place.

Can you relate to what I’m talking about here? Have you had similar experiences? I’d love to hear.

Thank you, as always, for reading.

Cathy