Meet Jackson Family Wines' Viviann Stapp, one of North Bay Business Journal's 2019 Forty Under 40
Viviann Stapp, 39, senior vice president and general counsel for Jackson Family Wines in Santa Rosa, is one of North Bay Business Journal's Forty Under 40 notable young professionals for 2019.
Responsibilities with your company: I manage and oversee all day-to-day legal matters for the Jackson Family's wine and vineyard-related companies.
How do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty Under 40 professional?: I want to be part of an engaged group of professionals working to make the North Bay a diverse and balanced place to work and raise a family.
Years with company: 6
Length of time in current position: 1 year
Number who report to you: 7
Greatest professional accomplishment: Loving my job! I started law school aspiring to be an environmental lawyer. After graduating with the standard law school debt load, practicality prevailed and I worked as a big law firm associate in San Francisco doing securities litigation. I never minded the grind but found the lifestyle unsustainable. Working for Jackson Family Wines has allowed me to have it all - I practice law with a multifaceted approach - including on environmental and sustainability initiatives - for a family that's passionate about the long-term health of the planet.
Greatest professional challenge: I work at a company with so many experts at everything. My greatest challenge as a lawyer is to learn the wine business in a way where I can step into the shoes of my clients - what does it mean to be in the Winery, the Vineyards, HR, IT? I'm constantly playing catch up and learning from my peers. It's been a thrill and a challenge - a winemaking hill that I climb everyday.
Best advice received: Be true to yourself and feel good about what you do. This is the best practical advice from a Chinese emigre mother: "You're never going to be a professional athlete or a model, so study hard!"
Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months: Promotion to general counsel and working with an all-star legal team.
What steps is your company taking to sustain your organization and morale in the current economy?: Regardless of the economy, we've always recognized that people come first and that we are a family-owned and family-run company in the truest sense. I'm particularly proud of starting and serving on our company's JFWCares and Rooted for Good programs. JFWCares provides financial assistance to employees impacted by disasters or hardship events.
This relief, which came from fellow employees, the family, and valued partners, came at a much-needed time during the Valley Fire in Lake County and the Sonoma-Complex Fires. Rooted for Good is our company volunteer program. Employees receive paid workdays to volunteer with various nonprofits. It's great for team-building, morale, and an opportunity to help our local community.
Next professional goal: I want to learn the languages and vernacular of wine: wine tasting, wine-making, then Italian and French.
Education: Yale University, Bachelor of Arts in political science and studies in the environment (2001); University of Chicago Law School, Juris Doctorate (2004)
Hometown: Clovis, California (Fresno County)
Community/nonprofit activities: I am on the executive committee and board of directors for the Redwood Empire Food Bank.
Mentor/admired businessperson: May I pick 3? Barbara Banke, Don Hartford, and Jeff Wesselkamper - business people who happen to be lawyers. They make business decisions via Socratic method. I learn from them everyday and see how they plan for generations ahead.
What is your most disliked buzzword?: Influencer
Typical day at the office: Constant juggling, running in the hallways, and frantic typing!
Best place to work outside of your office: Home
Hobbies: Spending time with my husband and our dog, Asta
What you wanted to be when you grew up?: A lawyer (sorry, but it's true... I probably didn't know any better at the time!)
No. 1 thing you want to accomplish by the time you turn 40: Have a family vacation with my husband, parents, siblings, in-laws, and nieces/nephews!
First job: I was 14 and worked as a telemarketer selling chimney sweepings (the company hired high school debaters...I was terrible at it!).
Favorite book: “No One Writes to the Colonel” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Favorite movie: “La Femme Nikita”
Favorite after-work drink: Wine!
Last vacation: I was in Italy and had the opportunity to see the Family's vineyards and winery in Tuscany at Tenuta di Arceno. Absolutely gorgeous!
Favorite app: Terrible answer: Outlook mail