Alex Gorton, Octavian Vaults Claims Administrator
A French degree, 15 years in wine retail, and an enthusiasm for the grape, gave Alex Gorton “suitable DNA” for his career at Octavian. Since having taken up his official role as claims administrator over ten years ago, he has adopted many other responsibilities, often on his own initiative.
Alex’s insight into the intricacies of fine wine storage, handling and transportation, and above all his enduring interest in the “product” he works with, inspired him to get involved in the writing and delivery of Octavian Wine Workshops; courses attended by all members of staff. “We wanted to build in-house product knowledge and a greater understanding of the motives for and benefits of investing in fine wines (besides the obvious one of consumption!). In tandem with the workshops, individuals have the opportunity to study for Wines & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) examinations. I’ve found it particularly rewarding that course uptake has been so strong, and to date there has been a 100% pass rate.”
From its outset over a year ago, Alex has also been an elected member of Octavian’s Employee Forum. “This provides opportunity for employees to have a voice and contribute to the daily operation of the organisation. I like to think of it as a link between management and staff, and in practice it functions very well as a two-way highway,” he says. On the social front, Alex is equally “hands on”. He plays an active role in the organisation committees for two regenerated annual staff events, which he hopes will become a regular feature in Octavian’s calendar.
Occasionally Alex’s French language skills are called to the fore in handling Customs issues, or more challengingly, when he is asked to mediate “with animated delivery drivers who don’t have the right paperwork”. “One thing that you realise pretty quickly is that commercial French differs quite a lot from bar-speak French,” he muses. “Invariably I manage to find a way around the word or phrase that I am searching for, usually via the scenic route, using a lot more vocabulary!”
All this does not detract from Alex’s application to his primary role. “Being a working warehouse, it is regrettable, though inevitable, that accidents will occur or errors arise from time to time. In claims administration, much of my time is spent investigating issues, negotiating where appropriate and, through my knowledge of wine and the fine wine trade, achieving a satisfactory outcome for the customer. The information gleaned along the way provides an invaluable tool, enabling us to turn a negative into a positive, tighten up our systems, and stop similar scenarios arising again.”
After a hard day’s work, Alex looks forward to his favourite food and wine pairing: a full-bodied Syrah with a “Ruby Murray”, a longstanding source of heated debate with his colleagues who tend to prefer a glass of white, or even a beer, with their curry.