Ian Harris appointed MBE

WSET chief executive Ian Harris was appointed an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List 2018 in recognition of his services to the drinks industry.

Student numbers have increased more than 800% at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust since Harris took the helm in 2002.

It is now the world’s largest organisation of its kind and candidate numbers topped 85,000 in 2017.

He said: “It is an incredible honour to be appointed an MBE. After 25 years in the mainstream, commercial side of the industry, I have enjoyed the last, and the best, 15 years of my career at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

“Education is the foundation for any successful industry and I am privileged to lead an organisation that nurtures future generations of wine and spirits professionals and enthusiasts. I am very proud of what the team at WSET have achieved over the past few years and we will continue to work to build a fruitful future for this great industry, which I love.”

Harris won the Lifetime Achievement Award at our Drinks Retailing Awards in 2016 to celebrate a long and varied career in the trade.

After going to university with the intention of becoming a teacher, he lived near Bordeaux during a year abroad and his eyes and taste buds were opened to the wonders of the wine trade. On returning to the UK he worked for Christopher’s and Waverley, with a big career break coming in 1984 when he moved to Edinburgh to become Waverley’s first wine development manager, running wine sales courses for the entire workforce.

He moved to Seagram in 1987 as national account manager, and another big break came when the firm purchased the Martell brand. As a French speaker with experience in sales and marketing, he was the ideal candidate to become marketing manager and enjoyed a couple of years out in Cognac before working his way up to commercial director.

He took over at the WSET in 2002 and he has built it up to be a world-leading organisation, offering education and qualifications in the field of wines and spirits in more than 600 centres across the globe.