C. Mondavi & Family's Claire Hobday wins 2019 North Bay CFO award

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Claire Hobday

Chief Financial Officer

C. Mondavi & Family

2800 Main Street, St. Helena

707-967-2229 • • •

Claire Hobday, chief financial officer of C. Mondavi & Family in St. Helena, wins one of North Bay Business Journal's CFO Recognition Awards winners for 2019.

Number of company employees: 140

Professional background: I’ve worked in the field of Finance for over 20 years in the UK, New Zealand and US, the past 8 years of which I’ve spent in the wine business. I’ve been CFO of C. Mondavi & Family since October 2018.

Education: I hold a double-major Bachelors degree in Music and Law from Keele University in the UK. I am a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in NZ/Australia and an Associated Member of Chartered Accountants in the US. I completed an Executive MBA in Wine Business from Sonoma State in 2018 and am WSET Level II certified.

How has the current economic environment changed how you carry out your job at your current employer?

A key aspect of my job is to safeguard the long-term economic health of our 4th-generation family-owned employer. It involves a delicate balance between rigorously assessing and supporting growth opportunities with foreseeing and mitigating risks. Low borrowing rates have provided the chance for us to invest back into the business and our collective efforts are focused on ensuring a good return on this investment.

What are the two key challenges your industry faces?

California-specific climate risks and labor constraints.

Tell us about a recent success your company has had.

Internally, our company has gone through a tremendous cultural shift over the past 2-3 years and our employee engagement results are through the roof. Externally, we’ve launched a new brand in a crucial price point that we weren’t in before and are seeing good traction.

What advice would you give to young emerging financial leaders?

Don’t be an armchair accountant – get out and understand what means success for the other parts of your business and how you can best service that success. Build great, long-term relationships with your vendors and customers. Never underestimate the power of a strong network and maintain an attitude of gratitude for the amazing opportunities afforded by your choice of industry.

How do you think your business will change in the next five years?

Creative Wholesale and Direct-to-Consumer strategies will be increasingly more critical to success, in order to differentiate from an ever-widening competitor pool. The wine industry has plenty to learn about using data to engage their current and potential customers and there will be increasing demands on technology to quickly provide this data.

What is a decision you wish you hadn’t made? What did you learn from it?

I’ve lived the phrase “hire in haste, repent at leisure.” Bad personnel decisions take a terrible toll on team morale and I’ve learned that teams react much better to accommodating a temporarily empty seat than one filled poorly.

What is your most memorable business experience?

Moving from New Zealand (a 2-tier wine industry) to the U.S. with its 3-tier system was a fascinating history lesson and I’ve been incredibly fortunate to learn from industry veterans with deep knowledge of Napa Valley.

The complex and ever-changing compliance environment provides constant intellectual challenges, and this is likely to continue with expansion in Canada and other export markets.

What is your greatest business success?

I cut my teeth in finance with PWC in the audit and tax departments, moving with them from the UK to New Zealand before transferring into the corporate finance environment. Gaining experience across multiple industries was a great foundation and I consider the opportunity of living in different countries as being one of my greatest business- and life- successes.

What was your toughest business decision?

The toughest calls were those that affected my teams, in situations where restructures were required. I hope to have achieved these with sensitivity and consideration of the human impact.

What would your friends and family be surprised to find out about you?

I’m a keen karaoke singer (more enthusiastic than talented, sadly).

Tell us about your community involvement activities.

I am on the Board of Appellation St Helena. With a son in the Navy, I volunteer at both Operation With Love From Home which sends holiday care packages to troops based overseas, and Vintners for Veterans at the Veterans Home in Yountville.

Claire Hobday

Chief Financial Officer

C. Mondavi & Family

2800 Main Street, St. Helena

707-967-2229 • • •

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