Recently appointed as WSET’s first USA Business Development Director, Dave Rudman has taken on the task of ensuring WSET meets the high demand for wine and spirits education in the U.S. As a Diploma student himself, he shares his tips to successful studying and goals for his new role.
When and how did you first become interested in wine and spirits?
At the age of 23, I found myself quite irresponsibly living in Brooklyn without much purpose, and without employment. The only job I could get was polishing wine glasses as a bar-back at a neighbourhood wine bar. The bartender for whom I was fortunate enough to bar-back for most nights was also a wine salesman, and always had in tow his samples from the day. He recognized my willingness to learn, so each night, after our shift, he would have me taste the wines blind and describe them to him. I tasted many wines with him that I have never forgotten. I made it my mission to learn as much as I possibly could about wine from that moment.
What are the main things you hope to achieve in your new position as WSET USA Business Development Director?
My mission in the USA is for WSET to be instantly recognizable to all American professionals and enthusiasts as the best-in-class for wine and spirits education. The demand for this type of education in the USA is very high, and WSET’s increased presence here will inspire and empower both the American trade as well as the consumer.
WSET candidate numbers in the USA have risen phenomenally over the past few years. What do you think is driving this demand for wine and spirits education?
This demand is driven by consumers’ desire for knowledge and information about products, especially insofar as it relates to their genuineness and authenticity. The trade has no choice but to prepare themselves to be experts for their customers, and there is no better way to do this than to study with WSET and enjoy the confidence and prestige our certifications offer!
What drinks trends are you noticing in the US wine and spirits world this year?
It’s amazing how many more Americans are drinking sparkling wine and sparkling wine cocktails on-premises. Rosé has really found its moment, as it naturally seems to express a certain set of “lifestyle” attributes: light, fun, vibrant. On the spirits side, whisky continues to roll and consumers are demanding more and more varied offerings. Consumers overall are more receptive than I have ever seen to new wines and spirits - so long as they trust the knowledge of the bartender or wine-server!
My mission in the USA is for WSET to be instantly recognizable to all American professionals and enthusiasts as the best-in-class for wine and spirits education.
You are currently studying for your WSET Diploma. With other qualifications already under your belt, what made you decide to embark on the Diploma?
In addition to the expert-level knowledge studying Diploma has given me, it is the network of professionals across all segments of our business that I believe holds the most lifetime value for a WSET alumnus. I knew that WSET could prepare me for a very broad range of career paths in our business - although I had no idea it would lead me to work directly for WSET!
How are you balancing your WSET Diploma studies alongside your new role whilst also studying for an MBA at Yale? Any tips for fellow Diploma candidates?
Being a student in both WSET’s Diploma Program and Yale School of Management’s MBA for Executives has truly humbled me. Fortunately, I can’t imagine ever not being a student, at any point in my life. Both of these programs have kept me in a student’s mindset: humble, diligent, and always recognizing how far I’ve come and how far there is to go.
The WSET Diploma is very well-organized so that I know exactly what to focus on. It allows me to work at my own pace through the various units. My advice to Diploma-seekers is not to be overwhelmed initially by all the different units, and examinations. Work with your educators and develop a step-by-step plan for yourself to have the greatest possible success!
If you'd like to know more about how WSET qualifications can help your business, or are interested in becoming a WSET course provider in USA please contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.