Michael Huband, an English graduate with teaching experience, has proved to be the perfect fit for a role encompassing wine education for a rapidly expanding retailer.
Tim Jackson MW, head of marketing at Amathus, explains: “Michael initially started in our Soho store, supporting Sam who runs it. He very quickly got to grips with and engaged in the wine business. We have really seen his proactivity, delight and pleasure in getting involved in more and more things.”
Michael is now the assistant manager at the South Kensington store, which he recently helped to open, and he is thriving in other areas too.
“For the last six months he has been the voice of Amathus on all of our social media because all our central accounts are run by him,” says Tim. “Michael is a former English teacher and he is a really good writer so we have tapped into his historic talents in a really nice way. He’s really taken it to the next level in supporting the other stores in their social media activities.
“He has that combination of enthusiasm, initiative and intelligence to be able to support the business in multiple ways to drive things forward, beyond simply being a good seller of products in a shop.
“He’s showing us really fantastic ways to engage people coming into our stores and drive the business more broadly than just being an assistant manager. Once you have gems you nurture them and give them the opportunity to grow, and Michael has taken that with both hands.”
Michael swiftly realised that teaching in a secondary school was not for him, but he has retained his enthusiasm for education and has fully embraced his additional role as “head of grammar” at Amathus. “It never hurts to have someone to proofread everything,” he says.
“When I did my WSET Level 3 about four years ago I decided the education element of it was something I really enjoyed and would be well suited to. I was lucky in that within six months of joining Amathus the WSET course provision was on their radar. Unfortunately for senior management, that gave me licence to pester them about it!”
His “pestering” paid off and Michael says he is looking forward to running the courses. “I know I will love the structuring and the pedagogy of it. I love managing our events because there is something so powerful about demystifying wine. I find it extremely satisfying to know that I am helping someone to enjoy something and empower them to find something that they really like.
“Wine can be exceptionally difficult to communicate, even if you have a bottle open in front of you. Often you have to have that slight sense of poetry, metaphor or idiom because taste and smell are very difficult to articulate and we are also talking about something that is very complex and can be emotionally loaded. So communicating this, on both the sales side and the educational side, is something that really appeals to me.”
And what are his particular favourites when it comes to wine? “I’m a little bit of a wine tart,” Michael laughs. “I like everything, although I have a particular love for Spanish wines. Godello in particular has a special place in my heart. Often I tend towards rich, fleshy whites, so South African Chenin has always been a favourite of mine too.”
Michael has no regrets when it comes to his career change. “The lovely thing about this industry is that you are talking about and dealing with something that you can really enjoy,” he says. “Starting work at Amathus could have been intimidating because these are very much spirits stores as well as wine stores, but there was this infectious enthusiasm and I was so interested in all the products they were offering.”