Diane Edwards is the General Manager of J Wray & Nephew UK Ltd; a distributor and brand builder of premium spirits with 17 years experience in the UK market.

This means I have the day to day responsibility for the company.  I deal with strategic questions involving company direction and growth, financial questions and achievement of company targets, as well as supporting our sales, marketing and back office teams with their challenges.   Some days, though, I feel I’m really a gopher, dealing with issues from stock to customers to marketing to staffing!   Every day a different challenge!

About J Wray and Nephew UK Ltd

J Wray and Nephew UK Ltd was founded in 1992 to distribute and market the Appleton range of rums, J. Wray & Nephew UK Ltd. has grown to become a professional and creative independent distributor. We manage sales, marketing and distribution for a growing portfolio of award-winning brands, including liqueurs & whiskies.

Are there many women in your sector

There are many women in the drinks business, probably more on the marketing and brand management side than in general management.  On our sales team we have 3 women out of 10, so we are growing numbers in sales too.

What project are you working on now?

I am currently organising the Jamaica House presence for J. Wray & Nephew’s key brands: Appleton Estate V/X and Wray & Nephew White Overproof rum.

You are known as a marketing guru, what advice would you give to small and micro businesses trying to flourish in these challenging economic times

The key thing is to create a brand with a real point of difference, one that stands out from the crowd and then be really consistent in positioning that brand; seeking opportunities for partnership and collaboration that will allow you to leverage your brand and punch above your weight.   This requires a lot of research, thought, consumer understanding and strategy development, which I think is sorely lacking in a lot of our companies.

What next for the Caribbean business community?

The Caribbean business community needs to focus on developing excellence and competitiveness and strengthening its outreach into the mainstream with all its goods and services, thinking bigger than the community as well as outside the box. The mainstream is adventurous and eager to try out new products with a difference, look at the success of Levi Roots and the fact that Jamaican patties and ready meals are now on the shelves of Asda and Tesco….

What are your views on the Women on Boards Debate?

There obviously needs to be far greater representation of women on boards, especially because of the special qualities women can bring to the table: better risk management, better investment prowess, a wide range of soft skills and a consensual approach to management, to name a few.  We definitely need to see a better gender balance breaking up some of the old boy networks that have been instrumental in causing some of our current economic and financial crises – more right brain thinking would be beneficial to us all.

What should women be doing to remain relevant in the job market?

Continuously improving their skill set, keeping current with new ideas and innovations in their field, building their networks and developing their assertiveness, asking for what they want instead of waiting for it to come to them.