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Interview with Annona Dodoo Decanter 360 Academy Trainee  

Here's an exclusive look into Annona Dodoo's experience as a Decanter 360 Academy Trainee. Applications for the second placement of the Decanter 360 Academy Trainee programme are now open.

The Decanter 360 Academy Trainee programme, which is dedicated to nurturing individuals with a fervent love for wine and a drive to forge careers within the industry, is now open for applications for its second 12-month placement at Decanter.

Launched to foster diversity and inclusivity within the wine sector, the programme extends opportunities to underrepresented communities.

Annona Dodoo stepped into Decanter’s world in early September 2022, marking the inaugural apprentice of the initiative. She proved to be an immediate asset to the team and currently holds the position of Decanter Marketing Executive, where she plays a pivotal role in executing impactful marketing campaigns for our global events, including the esteemed Decanter Fine Wine Encounter (DFWE).

“We were thrilled about the potential the Decanter 360 Academy experience had for Annona’s career growth. Throughout this process, it became evident how this initiative has positively influenced the entire Decanter team.” said Victoria Stanage, Decanter’s Events and Award Director.

Here’s an exclusive peek into Annona’s experience – why she chose to be part of the programme, learn about her wine journey, and insights from her time at Decanter thus far.

Watch: Interview with Annona Dodoo

What initially drew you to apply for the Decanter 360 Academy Trainee role?

My motivation to join the wine industry came from the lack of representation of Black British owned wine companies and people in the industry. After achieving my WSET Level 2 Award in wine, I wasn’t really sure of my direction, I just knew that I wanted to get experience on the job. I heard about the opportunity from Mags Janjo of BAME Wine Professionals – the job description really aligned to my current situation. I was someone from an underrepresented group with a keen interest in wine, who wanted to learn and grow in the industry but didn’t know how to achieve this. It just seemed tailor made for me. A company that understood. The Decanter name holds a lot of weight in the industry, it was an amazing opportunity that I’d be silly not to go for.

Describe your experience working with Decanter?

My experience at Decanter has been extremely invaluable, it’s helped to shape my career in the industry and my understanding of the wine trade. I was able to get hands-on experience, working across editorial, sales, marketing and events/awards departments, while working with experts. As someone who needed direction in the industry. it was the perfect training ground for me.

What were some of the most valuable lessons or insights you gained during your time at Decanter?

The industry can feel quite daunting, and it can be hard not to feel intimidated by not having a particular level of knowledge. But what I’ve learnt during my time at Decanter is that there is always something new to learn, even those who have been in the business for years are still learning and adapting to changes.

How did the Decanter 360 Academy Trainee role contribute to your professional development and growth?

It’s provided me with practical experience and industry exposure. It’s allowed me to be seen, connect with industry professionals, build relationships and expand my professional network.

Were there any particularly memorable moments or achievements that stand out from your time in the project?

After shadowing Decanter’s tastings manager, I had the opportunity to lead my own panel tasting with three judges, evaluating a total of 84 wines. Naturally, I was very nervous stepping into this role, but the experience proved to be incredibly rewarding and insightful. Leading the panel tasting allowed me to apply the skills and knowledge I had gained during my time with the tastings manager. It was a valuable opportunity to showcase my ability to guide and coordinate a tasting session effectively.

I also had the opportunity to assist with promoting and marketing the DFWE in New York. I led social media campaigns to push ticket sales and was able to be involved in the planning and execution. It was such a great experience as I got to see first hand how events ran on a large-scale; and see New York for the first time.

I also achieved my WSET Level 3 certification, which was a goal I had set myself before joining the Decanter 360 Academy programme. My qualification was funded through the scheme, which I was truly grateful for. I felt supported by team members who helped with my studies, whether it was holding tasting sessions or just providing a space where I was able to discuss topics. I passed with merit, (i’m still on a high) It’s been my greatest achievement to date since joining the industry. I met my goal and felt like all my hard work paid off. It has given me more confidence and I’m excited to continue my journey with Decanter.

The Decanter team at DFWE NYC

Are there any stand-out wines you’ve tasted in the Decanter tasting suite and grown to love?

A Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne was sent to the tasting suite. The reason this particular champagne stood out for me was because it had a distinct marzipan note that I was able to detect. As someone who struggles with identifying aromas and flavours in wine, this experience was particularly rewarding. It’s hard not to feel disheartened when you’re not able to pick out certain notes that others seem to effortlessly pick up on. However, during the tasting session, another individual mentioned detecting marzipan, which gave me with a much-needed boost of confidence—especially since marzipan was also listed in the official tasting notes. Even though I understand that tasting is subjective and everyone’s palate is different, it still felt like a personal achievement for me.

In what ways do you think the wine industry as a whole can further prioritise diversity and inclusion?

I believe the wine industry can prioritise diversity and inclusion by firstly being open to the conversation and actively seeking out talent from underrepresented communities. More companies need to set up schemes like the Decanter 360 Academy Trainee programme. Schemes like this show that they recognise that lack of diversity is an issue, and they are open to being a part of change and not the problem. It would also be nice to see representation at higher levels.

What is your message or advice for aspiring apprentices looking to apply and make their mark in the world of wine?

My advice for aspiring apprentices is to be open-minded and proactive. Say yes to learning opportunities, whether through formal education, hands-on experience, or networking with industry professionals. Seek out mentors who can offer guidance and support. Never stop exploring and tasting wines – it’s the best way to develop your palate and deepen your understanding. By saying yes to opportunities, you not only open doors for yourself but also gain clarity on your interests and strengths within the industry.

Apply today

Applications for the second 360 Academy Trainee post are now open and will close on Friday 21 June 2024.

Download the Decanter 360 Academy Trainee job description 

Download the Decanter 360 Academy Trainee training programme 

Application process
Submit a short covering letter explaining why you are interested in
joining the wine industry and why you believe you are the best
candidate for this opportunity, with your CV to decanter360@futurenet.com by Friday 21 June 2024

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