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Ian Harris Awarded MBE in New Year’s Honours List

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WSET Chief Executive Ian Harris has been appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year’s Honours List 2018.

Ian receives the commendable honour in recognition of his services to the Wine and Spirit industry.

On his appointment Ian says, “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.”

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. Following a successful career in sales and marketing, including 10 years with Waverley Vintners followed by 15 years with the Seagram Spirits and Wine Group in the UK and France, in 2002 Ian’s original passion for teaching brought him full circle when he joined the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) as Chief Executive.

In his time at the helm, Ian has overseen the transformation of WSET into the largest global organisation of its kind, with annual candidate numbers growing from 10,000 in 2002 to over 85,000 in 2017. WSET now offers nine qualifications in wine, spirits and sake across four levels of progressive study, in 19 languages through over 700 Approved Programme Providers in more than 70 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. In 2016 he was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Drinks Retailing Awards.

Ian is married with two children and holds the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits. 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.