#86 Communication is Key
Manage episode 343388637 series 3230061
With our 2022 Brewers Congress two months away, we thought it was the perfect time to revisit our 2021 keynote address.
Greg Zeschuk knows a thing or two about running a team. During his latest visit to the UK in September just gone, we caught up with him again and discussed that before working in beer, the company he co-founded grew to employ 1500 at seven locations across the globe.
Zeschuk was originally trained as a medical doctor, before starting the videogame company BioWare in 1995 in his hometown of Edmonton. BioWare created a number of successful games (Baldur’s Gate, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age, Mass Effect) before being purchased by Electronic Arts (EA) in 2007.
While a part of EA BioWare grew to employ over 1500 employees at seven studios across the world. Zeschuk left BioWare in 2012 and after a short hiatus started working in beer.
He went on to start The Beer Diaries, a YouTube channel focused on craft beer, and served as the first Executive Director of the Alberta Small Brewers Association in his home province. This led to Zeschuk starting a brewery in his hometown of Edmonton.
To achieve his brewery goals Greg built two buildings – the award-winning Ritchie Market and the Monolith. The Ritchie Market is a multi-use building housing a brewery (Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company), a restaurant (Biera), a butcher, coffee shop, and a bakery. The Monolith was built as a barrel-focused brewery.
Out of its Market brewery Blind Enthusiasm focuses on making lagers and runs a barrel-aging program. The Monolith was built to marry scientific method with tradition while making beer largely in wood. At the Monolith Blind Enthusiasm exclusively makes mixed fermentation and spontaneous beer.
And having worked in a variety of different professions across the world, Zeschuk says the key to heading up a team is to ensure you coach people rather than simply manage them, something he discusses in this latest episode.
“You have to be a manager, a coach and a referee all in one. And there’s probably a little bit of hope involved, too.”
“It’s important that the right people are in the right positions,” he explains. “And as your team grows, you need to remember that it helps for people to have frameworks to work within.”
Zeschuk adds: “I’ve let people run with roles because I have full confidence in them making it their own. But at times, people are more comfortable with having clear guidance of what’s expected of them. So it’s key to communicate and discover what works best with that individual.”
At its peak, Zeschuk was responsible for managing 600 people at EA BioWare and says having a good team around you is imperative.
“When you grow, you need management structure that works for you. But there’s no point it being too bloated because that can be disastrous,” he says. “You all need to work well together and, of course, there’s a little bit of hope that everyone pulls in the same direction.”
And while working in beer Zeschuk is now used to working with smaller teams, he says that doesn’t mean there are fewer pressures or challenges.
“Making video games was one thing and obviously delays happen. But the idea of telling a customer that we can’t deliver their beer that week? he laughs.That’s a whole different problem!”