As the Chief Winemaker of Orlando Wines based in Barossa Valley, Tim Pequest-Hunt knows all too well the “one shot to get it right” that comes with the science and magic of turning grapes into wine.
A classically trained singer who got into a career in winemaking after working part-time in a local wine store, he is now a champion for family-friendly workplaces and aims to actively demonstrate the value of taking time out for the family.
Pelquest-Hunt started with Pernod Ricard Winemakers ten years ago and has risen up the ranks to become one of the company’s top winemakers. He’s also been a witness to significant demographic shifts in winemaking, in terms of more diversity and representation that’s come into the sector which also brings valuable new perspectives, opportunities, and the ability to learn from others.
Speaking to the Family Friendly Workplace Podcast, an initiative between Parents At Work and UNICEF Australia, Pelquest-Hunt shared how he came into winemaking – discovering he had a passion and a great taste for wine almost accidentally – and went on to study the science and art of the process in New Zealand.
He also shares his story of fatherhood and community, having two young children and seeing the difference that a shift in paid parental leave policies can have for Dads, as it did for himself.
He said negative stereotypes about fathers taking leave continue today, highlighting some of the comments he personally received, like, “How was your holiday?” and “What did you actually do?”
But then he also believes leaders can actively take steps to counter such stereotypes, and encourage other people to comfortably take leave and be their best selves at home and at work.
“So, I’m very transparent on the flexibility I need, not just for parental leave, but also from day-to-day in just being a parent,” he says.
“The smaller everyday actions have a bigger impact and empower the team to know that they can leave early, take parental leave, whatever it is, and can do so without judgment.”
He adds that “leaving loudly” – instead of creeping out the back door at the end of the day – is a great approach to demonstrating you have a life outside of work, as a leader.
“It signals to the team that you trust them, and it demonstrates an appreciation for family and more generally a life outside of work. And it empowers the team to do it the same.”
He also encourages more discussions about parental leave and family-friendly practices.
“Don’t just stop at congratulations,” he says when highlighting how managers can respond to team members and colleagues who announce they are expecting a child, particularly men.
“Continue the conversation … Ask questions about what their plans might be and highlight the policies that are available. I try to transparently share my own experience in an effort to promote that.”
He also says to move away from the idea that a workplace won’t be able to cope with a leader taking parental leave in one block, or even flexibly, over a longer period.
“I’m not downplaying the effort and the importance of our people because they are extremely important, but if you take a step back and look at where you are, you need to realize that no matter how important you think you might be, the cogs will keep turning,” he says,
“The grapes will keep getting picked and they’ll keep fermenting, But you won’t get that time with your newborn, your parent, your sister, whatever it is that’s important to you. You won’t get that time again.
“So to have an employer that wholeheartedly supports that is a real game changer. And so I try and encourage our teams and broader Pernod Ricard winemaker colleagues, and even in the industry, to take the time you can to watch your kids grow.”