Interview: Lauren Sheppard, General Manager at MooBrew

Lauren at work.

Since 2020 Lauren Sheppard has worked as the General Manager of MooBrew, Tassie’s largest independent craft brewery and produced here in Bridgewater. We interviewed Lauren about what got her into the role, what the beer industry is actually like, and her advice for young people.

When you were growing up,
did you see yourself being in this kind of role?

I was born and raised in Tassie, so I’ve always been really proud of working for Tasmanian-owned businesses. When I was little, I wanted to be a lawyer for quite a few years. But when I got to university, I realised I didn’t actually want to be a lawyer! I’m a numbers girl, so I pivoted straight away to my strengths, and worked in superannuation and finance and have followed that strength ever since. I spent a lot of years working for a private Tasmanian-owned car dealership, and then I worked for Frogmore Creek, as Andrew Hood started to transition out of that business. So, for the last 16 or 17 years I’ve worked for private Tasmanian-owned businesses and I wear that badge with pride. I’m not sure that I ever knew I would work in this particular industry, but what I did know, and what I tell my daughters and my son, is that
it’s really useful to have skills that can apply to any industry. As a business and finance driven person, I’ve had the joy and luxury of being able to explore lots of different industries because my skills transfer easily.

What’s it like working in the beer industry?

I think it’s an exciting time for anyone working in the beer industry in Tasmania right now. It’s a growth industry for our state, and it’s still growing every day. There are more breweries up and running all of the time. Per capita, we have more breweries in Tasmania than any other state in Australia. So, I think it’s an exciting time to be part of that growth period. I’m really passionate
about women not being able to be what they can’t see. I’m really proud of my business acumen and that’s where my greatest skills lie, and that’s what I hope people notice about me. But I’m also really mindful that if I can be a bit of a figurehead for women that go “oh that’s an industry I hadn’t thought of” or
“that’s an industry for skills I have and could apply to,” then that’s a bonus.

What did you do prior to your role as General Manager of MooBrew?

I’d been working for David Walsh for a couple of years before coming to MooBrew. Then in March 2018 he purchased Domaine A, a winery in the Coal River Valley, and I worked there for a number of years as the manager. When he bought Domaine A, he basically inherited me. I moved across to the Mona family and then worked with Domaine A under the new ownership, and also with Moorilla, which is Mona’s wine brand. Then Covid hit, and we all went home, around March 2020, and we pivoted the wine business to an e-commerce platform with a home delivery service. It was a really busy time, and then while I was in the first Covid lockdown, I received a call asking if I’d be interested in taking over MooBrew. So, it was a very strange time to take on a really big role. I was very lucky because I knew that Jack [head brewer at MooBrew] would have the brewing side well under control and I could focus on the business side.

What advice do you have for young people wanting to pursue a business career?

Be open-minded to how your skill sets apply. If someone had said to me ten years ago when I was working in car finance, that I’d end up managing a number of businesses for David Walsh, I would have laughed. I think the important thing, especially for women, is to believe the value in your skills, to be open to being ambitious – that that isn’t a negative in a woman. If you are
ambitious, don’t be afraid to let people know that you’re ambitious. I think it’s kind of been drilled into us that being ambitious makes us difficult or that it’s a negative, and I think that’s wrong. I would also say that it’s a lot to do with self-confidence. When you believe that you’re good enough for a job, quite often someone else will too.

Lauren Sheppard