Ian Harris, Chief Executive at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Drinks Retailing Awards held at London’s Dorchester Hotel on Tuesday.
The award recognises Harris’ diverse career in the trade, especially his efforts in building WSET to be the biggest organisation of its kind in the world, offering education and qualifications in the field of wines and spirits through more than 600 approved course providers across 66 countries.
Martin Green, editor at Off Licence News magazine, which runs the Drinks Retailing Awards, said:
Ian Harris has driven remarkable growth at WSET in the UK and across the world since he joined in 2002 and his achievements in the field of wine and spirits education have been truly exceptional, making him a highly deserving winner of our Lifetime Achievement Award.
He is a pioneer, a hardworking trailblazer and a great innovator. He joins an elite club of leading lights from the drinks industry that we have inducted into our Hall of Fame, and we feel it is a great honour to award him this accolade. He received a prolonged standing ovation when the award was presented, which was fantastic to see as it illustrated just how highly regarded he is in the industry. We are confident that Ian will go on to spur WSET to even greater heights in years to come.
On receiving the award Harris commented:
It is a real thrill to win the Drinks Retailing Lifetime Achievement Award. However it belongs not just to me but to all the staff at WSET who through their hard work and support have enabled us to achieve so much during my time here. I may have been at the helm of WSET near 14 years yet in so many ways I feel that the best is yet to come!
About Ian Harris
Having gone to university with the intention of becoming a teacher, a life-changing year in Bordeaux soon opened Ian’s eyes to the world of wine, ultimately kick-starting what would become a lifelong career in the wine and spirit industry.
On graduating from London University with a degree in French, Ian joined Christopher & Co. and its parent company, Waverley Vintners, where he was their first Wine Development Manager, designing and running sales courses. Ten years later, in 1987, he joined Seagram – initially in the UK, then in 1993-1995 he spent two years as Global Marketing Manager for Martell, based in Cognac, France.
Ian returned to the UK in 1995 as Marketing Director and then Commercial Director for Seagram UK, also assuming General Management responsibility for the Nordic markets. In 2002, Ian’s original passion for teaching brought him full circle when he joined the Wine & Spirit Education Trust as Chief Executive. Here Ian has overseen the transformation of WSET into the largest global organisation of its kind, with student numbers growing six-fold from 10,000 in 2002 to over 60,000 in 2015 across 60+ countries.
In 2014 Ian was named Drinks Business ‘Man of the Year’ followed in 2015 with WSET receiving the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade - the highest accolade for business in the UK.
Ian is married with two children and holds the WSET Level 4 Diploma. He also occasionally returns to his first love, teaching, particularly on the WSET’s Business and Commercial Knowledge (BACK) course held annually in the UK.