Each month, ForceBrands partners with The Tasting Panel magazine. The Tasting Panel offers an insider’s look at the tastemakers and trendsetters in today’s growing beverage industry. From winemaker profiles, to brands that are the bartenders’ best friend, this monthly publication gets up close and personal with today’s influencers and explores the products they love the most. With a readership of 85,000 professionals across all levels of the industry, The Tasting Panel maintains its position as a leading authoritative voice in the beverage industry. This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of The Tasting Panel.

Rachel Seder is the Vice President of Talent Acquisition/Diversity & Inclusion at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. She recently spoke to ForceBrands about her role, the mentors who inspire her, the initiatives she’s taken to help narrow the industry’s gender gap, and more. Read on to learn what it’s like to lead talent acquisition at the nation’s largest wine and spirits distributor.

ForceBrands: Tell us a bit about your background ― how did you end up leading talent acquisition at the nation’s largest beverage distributor, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits?
Rachel Seder: I started in Human Resources right out of college as an EEO Administrator for a global financial services firm in New York City and held various Human Resources Generalist and management positions over the next 10 years. I started with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits in 2001 as the Human Resources Director for our Business Solutions Group (IT, Accounting/Benefits/Payroll Services, Logistics, Purchasing). I started to assist our Corporate group with helping with building and staffing new divisions which were through acquisitions, joint venture formations or from the ground up. Eventually, I was given the opportunity to officially lead Talent Acquisition for the company and it’s been a fun and wild ride ever since then.

FB: What has surprised you most about your experience in your role?
RS: Since I have “grown-up” in this company ― I don’t know if I get surprised too easily in my role today as I have been able to learn all the unique qualities of our company from my experience in all my other HR roles with the company.  If anything ― I understand the pace we need to go at to be successful in talent acquisition better than someone who may have stepped into this role externally.

FB: Given your experience in recruiting top talent, what piece of industry advice do you think is most valuable to know for candidates transitioning into the beverage industry?
RS: When you are transitioning into a privately held, family-owned company ― and now one of the largest in the nation ― you need to expect some uniqueness that comes from those two facts (private and family owned).  Decisions are still made 100 percent by the family ― if you don’t have that experience or are coming from a large publicly held company the adjustment may be steeper than others.

FB: You participated in Women of the Vine Global Symposium, which supports the advancement of women in the alcoholic industry. What other initiatives have you taken to help narrow the industry’s gender gap?
RS: Along with leading talent acquisition ― I also head up our Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives. Our overall strategy for diversity in inclusion is “Cheers to Diversity.” We continue to build Business Resource Groups for our employees around this strategy to ensure that we are fulfilling the “I” in our FAMILY Values (Cheers to Women in the Workforce, Cheers to Veterans, Cheers to Early Career, etc.) Specifically, regarding women in the workplace, we partner with various organizations (i.e. Network for Executive Women) to continue to provide opportunities for our Women to explore and be a part of.

FB: Let’s chat leadership ― a recurring theme among Millennials who are hungry for more career development and training. Who are some of your biggest career mentors and how did you go about finding them?
RS: I think that most of my mentors came about just through relationship building. I have a variety of “un-official” mentors within SGWS and outside that I can go to and just bounce ideas off of or listen to for advice on how I can become a better leader. A true mentor won’t coddle you ― they will tell it like it is ― it can sometimes be hard to hear, but in the end, it will make me a better leader.

FB: Looking ahead, what do you foresee as the biggest hiring trend to come? And how are you preparing for this?
RS: The biggest hiring trends and challenges come with our Millennials ― they are going to represent more than 50 percent of our total workforce in the near future and we need to continue to understand what motivates them to want to come to our company, but more importantly what motivates them to stay with our company.

FB: Just for fun, if you could be drinking your favorite cocktail anywhere in the world right now, what would it be and where?
RS: I am pretty boring when it comes to cocktails ― but vodka on the rocks with a splash of grapefruit juice is a go-to and of course only with vodka from one of our suppliers. Tuscany ― that’s my next European vacation. A couple of years ago I was fortunate to explore Southern Italy ― now it’s time to explore the northern region.

Rachel Seder