Wine and Travel Writer, Leads a Sales Consulting Practice; Former Technology VP
One of the challenges of shaping a second act career is the balance between having fun and earning money. But you can do both – and Tricia Conover elegantly shows us how to do this!
I interviewed Tricia because she is one of the women sharing her insights and tips for the Prime Women Second Acts Program.
Tricia was one of the few senior women in the software industry and not only developed this into a business in recent years – recruiting for the software industry through Sales Strategy Consultants – but turned her passion for wine into a parallel career of wine writing.
Tricia loves this mix – she says it keeps both her left brain and right brain active, and allows her to develop her creative side while still earning money (software recruiting is a lot better paid, she says!)
I wanted to pick up on how Tricia got into wine writing – writing is something a lot of people want to do later in life.
Tricia explains, “I was VP in a software company that was restructuring. I got a handsome payout and decided to ‘drop out’ and go to Napa Valley for 12 weeks and immerse myself in a wine writing course. This was to see if I really enjoyed it and could do it – and I was hooked!”
The course she went on was an intensive course by the Culinary Institute of America. The next step was a piece of luck or opportunity, depending on how you see it. Tricia had gone back into software and was in the UK, talking to a software client. She mentioned the wine course and he introduced her to a friend who moved to Florence in Italy and set up Tuscan magazine for expats in Italy. She persuaded them to let her try writing and she was launched.
Tricia then went on to pitch to local magazines, “You are always best to start writing for local publications,” using her Tuscan articles to show her ability.”
Alongside this she went to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers in Napa Valley where, “The tutors are editors and publishers from other magazines – I met people from the Wall Street Journal, food, wine and travel magazines.”
But Tricia says her big break came when she was one of the founding writers for Prime Women. “The consistency and practice of submitting an article every month was really great for my craft!”
Tricia continues to study and qualify, now having achieved Level 4 in the WSET Diploma of Wine – just below the Masters of Wine qualification. This allows her to go to symposiums of Masters – she has just been to one in Spain.
Above all, Tricia says she just loves interviewing such interesting people working in wine – as examples, the owner of the Mondavi Estate and Kathryn Hall – the former US Ambassador to Austria who has built the brands, HALL and WALT wines.
My final questions for Tricia were around building this new brand, of her as a wine writer. How has she done this – and what is the role of social media?
“I have two distinct brands,” Tricia says. “Me as a tech businesswoman – which has just extended the brand I built over 30 years. And then me as a wine writer – and I have had to put a lot of energy into becoming known as this.
“I have two websites (see the images below), different social media accounts for each role. The wine regions are so beautiful that I strive to take pictures that reflect the stunning landscapes.
As Tricia says, “It is hard creating an identity. You have to work at it. It’s nine years since I studied that first CIA course, so I have built up nine years of credibility. I am getting invitations to industry events now – it is worth it. And, of course, I love travelling to such interesting places, tasting wonderful wines and writing about inspiring people.”
If you are inspired to create a second act on your terms, join Prime Women’s online program – five 90-minute sessions over several weeks, with a small group of your peers. You will cover how to create a plan for a life on your terms and gain skills in personal branding, strategic networking, LinkedIn and more to make your plan happen. Click here for information and to book your place – this is limited to just ten women. You will hear more insights from Tricia and other women who made stunning transitions – to become board directors, social entrepreneurs and even having their own TV show!
Written by Victoria Tomlinson, Next Up