Women at Maison Gabriel Meffre: portrait of Christine Lacroix-Pallandre, Sales Administration Director

How did you join Maison Gabriel Meffre?

I joined the company 25 years ago. I met Christian Meffre, Gabriel Meffre’s son, at a trade show. I told him I was looking for work and he told me to contact Maison Gabriel Meffre. Soon after, I was recruited by Bertrand Bonnet, who was Chairman and CEO at the time.

What is the secret of your long career at the company?

The starting point is trust. During my 25 years here, I have worked under three managers who all trusted me and allowed me to grow within the organisation.

“When people trust you, it makes you want to stay.”

I began working as an Export Sales Assistant. A few years later, the position ‘Export Sales Administration Manager’ was created. I was offered the job and accepted it. Today and for the past three years, I have been managing all of the Sales Administration teams for France and Export markets.

I am involved in working groups each time a new project is created. For example, when we changed IT system, managers were involved in selecting the partner and defining specifications to identify the needs of each department. I find that this type of project helps make us more independent and engaged in our company.

What are your responsibilities?

The Export and France Sales Departments were unified three years ago. I was put in charge of Sales Administration. I coordinate a team of seven people and we have many responsibilities. We are in direct contact with our clients and provide an interface between the sales managers and the technical teams that carry out and produce orders. We ensure that our clients’ requests are fulfilled on time. We also provide after-sales services and work in conjunction with all the support teams (including quality, finance, marketing and communication).

How is your team organised?

Sales administration is managed sector by sector: Stéphanie and Perrine work with our clients in the Off Trade sector, while Alexandrine is the main point of contact for our agents and clients in the On Trade sector. Lastly, Nathalie, Tra, Juliette and Hélène each look after specific Export markets, in close relation with our Export managers. Nathalie and Stéphanie provide overall coordination of daily operations and report directly to me.

While each team member is specialised, they are also familiar with their colleagues’ work, in order to ensure service continuity for our clients.

My team is made up entirely of women. This type of position is usually occupied by women in the world of wine. There are far more applications from women. For me, recruiting a man or a woman is the same. The most important thing is to be able to rely on people who are competent and motivated!

What do you find most motivating in your job?

The variety and diversity of tasks. My work ranges from responding to offers to management duties. With seven people in the team, this is of course an important dimension. It includes both organisational aspects and internal negotiations that help us obtain what we need to fulfil our clients’ requests.

“My job is multi-faceted. The variety it offers is fascinating.”

How do you see the role of women in your profession today?

There has been a clear change in sales-related positions. When I started out, a woman would struggle to get beyond being a secretary or assistant. Things have evolved a lot over the past fifteen years or so. Maison Gabriel Meffre has actually been something of a pioneer in this area. In the 1990’s, many women were recruited for management-level positions and as department heads (such as Export, Winemaking, Marketing and Communication, and Quality) and they are still here today.

Recently, we recruited a young lady for the position of Sales manager for the French On Trade sector. She was hired for her competence, not because she is a woman!

What are your wishes for the company?

Over the years, as the Winery has changed hands, one important thing has remained the same: a feeling of belonging. I would like the Winery to continue to make us proud of the image it projects, the quality of its products and its values.
This includes our strong local presence, for example, through our work with local partners.
It also includes sincerity, through the quality of the products we sell. What makes people stay here for so long and creates this feeling of belonging is our very real human values, such as respect for people, trust and conviviality. It’s important that this continues!

And for yourself?

Handing down knowledge is important to me. Training new recruits and passing on things I have learnt through my years of experience. I hope I can continue to build this worthwhile legacy.

This series of portraits puts the spotlight on women at Maison Gabriel Meffre. You can also read the portraits of:

 

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