Tell us a little about your background?
I was born in Singapore and traveled extensively during my upbringing. Having lived in Italy, Brasil, Chicago, Chile, New York, to name a few, provided me with a unique opportunity to learn several languages- I can get by in 5. Most importantly, this gave me the confidence to embrace new environments and the ability to understand the lay of the land quickly.
My first gig out of college was to start a winery from scratch. I met the owner of the largest winery in Chile on a cruise and went on to create a new boutique wine that today is the 2nd largest in Chile, Viña Cono Sur. After that, I started another boutique wine company in Argentia, Trivento Vineyards, which has also grown to one of the largest in the country. From there, my partners and I started the first B2B portal for the global wine industry, which was later acquired by Winery Exchange. Based on my learnings and experience dealing with massive global brands and international business development, I realized that I could offer companies a sounding board on what to do or not to do based on their goals, so I started a consultant business which I ran for 12 years. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to join Mile High Labs as the 25th employee where we grew the company to 250 in under a year.
Why did you decide to transition from alcohol/beverage to cannabis?
I’ve known quite a bit about cannabis from an early age and have always had an interest in the plant. I saw an excellent opportunity to take what I’ve learned and experienced in other verticals and bring that to the cannabis space. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset and thought this would be the perfect marriage of my skills, networking, and passion.
How did your work in beverage prepare you for cannabis?
I’ve had great success starting businesses and building them to be the leaders that they are today. The cannabis industry is ripe with opportunities and areas for growth. Years ago, I was working on a new functional beverage – the concept didn’t even exist at that point. That’s kind of where we are now in cannabis. We have the opportunity to bring in trusted practices from other verticals and forge the new cannabis industry.
What is your role within Hunter + Esquire? What will your major responsibilities be?
I’ve been brought in as a Partner in Hunter + Esquire to build out the consultant service offering. Our goal is to work with and help companies create the future of the cannabis industry. Whether that’s helping with overall communications, build-outs, establishing a sales force, helping create a global infrastructure, or helping build up the team with the right human capital. The role of a consultant is to really get to know the company, who they are, how they work, and what they are trying to achieve and then working closely with the executive team or key stakeholders to develop a plan of action. What I love about my job is that every company is unique, and every job is different.
What is it that you like most about working with clients?
I have a kind of crazy background, and as a result, I love to discover bits of information through conversation. I find all sorts of things from deep and meaningful conversations that help identify elements that are missing or that need some guiding. It’s so much fun. I just love listening to clients, asking questions, and learning through that to then put together an idea of what they need.
What are some ways in which you go above and beyond for your customers?
Honesty. It’s so easy to be a sales guy. At Hunter + Esquire, we’re not interested in just selling you our services. We believe in creating long-term partnerships, and that can only be done with trust and complete transparency. Our goal is to work with individuals and companies who want to learn and feel passionate about doing things right and helping to create the best cannabis industry it can be. I firmly believe in the power of the plant and want to do what I can to propel the global humanity benefit of this amazing plant.
What do you find most challenging?
A lot of people wonder why they need to use an executive search firm or consultants. They think you can go on LinkedIn and get a bunch of resumes and then just pick one. But, if personalities don’t match or something isn’t right, then you not only lose money, but you lose time, and it turns into an extremely frustrating process for most. By hiring a trusted intermediary, you have an impartial opinion to provide good advice to the executive team and to offer solutions for the workforce and the company overall.
Where would you like to see the industry go?
As I said, I want to help this great plant help humanity. When prohibition ended, there were rum runners, illegal wine, moonshine; you name it. It was an illicit market like the cannabis market. We’re only in the infancy of this industry. I want to be a part of creating great companies in the US, and globally that will be around for hundreds of years. We need to establish these leaders from the beginning and set them off on a great and solid foundation. The world is totally grey now in terms of opportunity. There is a huge canvas out there, and I want to help paint it.