Pernod Ricard Australia

Pernod Ricard Australia

Grow your Leaders.
Grow your Business.

Pernod Ricard Australia is one of the country’s leading wine, spirits, and champagne companies. Pernod manages an unrivalled portfolio of internationally recognised brands, as well as iconic Australian wines Jacob’s Creek, St Hugo, and George Wyndham, through Pernod Ricard Winemakers. The organisation’s vision: “Créateurs de Convivialité”, whose purpose is to turn every social interaction into a genuine, friendly, and responsible experience of sharing.

Their Goal:

Develop coaching mindsets and skillsets across the organisation. Shift the ownership of coaching conversations from HR to leaders. Enable the shift from “tell” to “ask,” to activate curiosity, drive performance through others and deliver greater ownership and accountability.

Australia Pernod’s ambition is to become the number one Spirits and Wine company. They aim to lead the industry by allowing each brand to flourish, while respecting their identity, terroir, and savoir-faire.

To be the future market leader, Pernod recognised the need to begin acting like a leader and challenge the status quo in an extremely competitive environment. This environment is also characterised by change and digital transformation – requiring people to ask more questions and demonstrate a growth mindset.


Many leaders are addicted to “telling” – habitually giving advice / guidance / direction to everyone they encounter. Like many addictions, this habit feels good in the short term, but fails to deliver lasting satisfaction. “Telling” has its place but telling too quickly robs individuals and their organisations of the benefits that come with “asking.”

Here’s what happens for leaders: we hear an issue / situation / problem. We automatically operate from the frame that says: “a leader would tell the team how to solve this issue.” We want to be good leaders and so we tell them how to solve the issue. Unfortunately, this results in our colleagues not solving problems themselves and, in some cases, developing a dependence on us before taking action. Worse yet, we stay mired in the details and are unable to spend time on the strategic parts of our leadership roles.

To change this cycle, we must shift our mindset. Instead of: “a leader would tell the team how to solve this issue”, we must adopt: “questions are a leader’s best tool to lead the team to answers”.

Making a shift to coaching style provides serious commercial upside.

  • 86% of companies who calculated their return on investment, said that they at least made back their initial investment. 
  • 19% indicated an ROI of 50x the investment. 
  • 28% saw an ROI of 10-49x the investment. 
  • The median ROI is 7x the investment (2009 ICF Global Coaching Study).

Pernod is a wine making organisation at its heart, with experts deployed into many functional and business unit silos. Interviewees described the culture as fast-paced and task-focussed with plenty of short-term commitments. Taking a more curious, relational coaching approach in this environment is challenging. A deeper exploration of the mindsets and skillsets in the Manager ranks identified the need for:

  • Building the case for taking a coaching approach (“why coaching?”).
  • Shifting the ownership of coaching conversations from HR to leaders. 
  • More skill and confidence to lead difficult conversations.
  • Developing more accountability through conversations.
  • Building a culture of feedback and coaching.
  • Leaders investing more time in coaching.


The pilot group incrementally progressed towards adopting coaching behaviours. They started asking better questions of themselves and their teams.
These new mindsets and skillsets led to other noticeable and measurable results:
8% improvement: “Understands what motivates others”.
9% improvement: “Helps people to reach their potential”.
Pernod was sufficiently convinced by these results, to scale the program beyond the initial pilot group into broader segments of the leadership population.

The first challenge was to identify the current organisational factors, blocking the desired coaching approach. We identified 3 key barriers impeding a coaching approach:

  1. Time-poor. Managers feel they’re too busy and coaching does not happen. People sometimes think coaching must be formal and overestimate what’s involved to coach. As such the coaching skills program needed to focus on ‘coaching on the fly’. 
  2. Lacking skills. Managers often don’t know how to coach. They don’t understand the difference between coaching and mentoring. They’re not confident leading a ‘coaching’ conversation. So, the coaching training needed easy-to-use tools and frameworks.
  3. Breaking habits. For most Managers this as a new way to lead. They know how to solve the issue at hand, and as opposed to coaching someone, revert to: “it’s always been done this way, so go and do it this way.” The coaching training needed to challenge Managers to adopt new mindsets.

Based on this detailed understanding, we customised a proven Coaching Skills Development Programme – tailoring each discussion and activity to the Pernod context, language, and value chain. We delivered a national pilot of the 6-module program to a diverse group of HR Managers, using a virtual delivery method.

To define what ‘good looked like’, we isolated 5 specific coaching behaviours.

  • Invests time and attention to people conversations.
  • Helps people to reach their potentials.
  • Understands what motivates others.
  • Gives feedback and will confront difficult situations.
  • Helps people focus and prioritise on what’s important.

We measured these behaviours before and after the coaching training, to identify the positive changes observed by key stakeholders.

To strengthen the focus on application, we broke the group into 3-person triads who were encouraged to meet and review their use of these new skills. Triad members encouraged everyone to practice and reflect on the outcomes of their coaching conversations. All groups were provided periodic ‘nudges’ and reminders of the key coaching mindsets / skillsets / toolsets. These nudges kept the skills development process front of mind for everyone.

The project wrapped up with 2 x 90 minute follow up sessions where the group reviewed their progress individually and collectively.


Explore all aspects using FROM-TO analysis:

We use a robust Discovery Process with our clients to dive deep into the current situation (FROM) and identify the targeted future state (TO). This discovery process is critical to develop a program that is well-suited to the needs of a diverse group of professionals. This data are used to source and design the examples and scenarios used in the program. In addition, the “FROM-TO” analysis provides the criteria by which we measure the ROI achieved on the program investment.

Use a proven system:

There are many coaching models available in the market, but few are actually used by those who attempt to learn them. Choose an appropriate coaching model and focus on the system via which it is organised and deployed to the target audience. Work with coaching experts, who not only have advanced qualifications in Coaching Psychology, but also have a comprehensive deployment system that will ensure people practice the skills they’ve learned.

In our experience once people deliberately practice coaching for 6 weeks, the ‘ask don’t tell’ approach starts to become more natural. This is fundamental for the desired creation of a feedback and coaching culture.

Avoid the common missteps:

Building a strong coaching culture is an excellent way to drive performance against strategic goals, create a point of difference and improve engagement, productivity, and retention. Unfortunately, most attempts to create ‘coaching cultures’ fail. Sidestepping 5 common mistakes can help companies develop the desired culture in a sustainable way.

Real Change requires feedback:

Changing mindsets and behaviours is hard.
We need other people to help us by noticing and giving us feedback on the myriad of small things, that constitute new ways of thinking and acting. We enable this feedback via a technology platform that helps us notice micro-behaviours.

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”


When task-focussed firms invest in building coaching skills and are coaching, they improve the quality of conversations in the business, which inevitably leads to retention, productivity and enhanced commercial outcomes. Once managers shift their mindset from ‘tell’ to ‘ask’, they unlock the potential of their teams and free themselves up to focus on more strategic matters. These teams then deliver customer outcomes and financial results for their firms. As they become more comfortable enabling others to solve problems, they also unlock people’s ingenuity. This results in a more nimble, more innovative organisation.

Written by:

Elyane Verner


I specialise in individual and team development, drawing on my extensive senior-level, global experience across a broad range of organisations and previous worked as Global Head of Learning Strategy for a large healthcare company. With a Master’s of Management, substantial general management experience and organisational development accreditations, I bring high-level strategic approaches and pragmatic, hands-on Leadership and business coaching and consulting. I am passionate about creating sustainable change at both an individual and organisational level, with strong emphasis on authenticity, personal wellbeing, high performance and women in Leadership.