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Behind the Mic Speaker Series: Nicole Portwood, VP Brand Marketing at Tito’s Handmade Vodka

WOMMA Summit Introduces “Behind the Mic: Speaker Series”

Get to know some of the Summit speakers before you see them live on stage 

Nicole PortwoodNicole Portwood VP Brand Marketing, Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Nicole has been in spirits marketing for over 15 years. Prior to her role at Tito’s, she studied theatre and philosophy in college, and lived in New York for 10 years working on brands such as Jack Daniels, Grey Goose and Bombay Sapphire. Life with Tito’s is the most incredible professional experience she’s ever had, and she cannot imagine working anywhere else.



Nicole, in your bio you mention that Tito’s is the most incredible professional experience you’ve ever had – would you mind sharing with us why?

Every day is different! Seriously. There is a new challenge, a new opportunity, a new mountain to climb every day. It’s marvelous to be at this point in my career and still feel like I am learning every single day. And the people. The folks I work with day in and day out are some of the most inspiring, passionate, driven, creative people I have ever encountered. It’s like being in a think tank with people you also want to hang out and have a cocktail with. Very invigorating.

If you could add anyone else to that think tank, who would you add and why?

Maggie Henriquez, President & CEO of Krug. She’s an incredibly powerful modern mind, and has much to share on navigating the spirits business as a woman. Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. He has built a massively successful business by following his conscience and doing things for reasons he believes in rather than those that solely serve the bottom line. And Pope Francis. I’m not Catholic, don’t come from a Catholic background, and don’t necessarily agree with his positions. But it’s been inspiring to see the leader of one of the world’s major religions take a step back from convention and approach major questions of faith anew, with a modern sensibility. I think it takes courage and commitment to speak truth in the face of millennia of tradition.

Love that unconventional answer! It’s true you can find inspiration from leaders both inside and outside the industry. How about social media – who do you love to follow?

@TheCMOClub – it’s a great perspective on the challenges facing those of us in senior marketing roles and I’ve found the insights to be really helpful as I manage growth both on the brand and team side. Matthew Inman, @Oatmeal. I just love his sense of humor. I actually have one of his comics (How to use a semicolon) framed and hanging on my office wall. @TEDTalks. I follow TED on Twitter, listen to the TED Radio Hour podcast, and generally just love to hear amazing ideas from interesting people.

 I would imagine this falls in the same category as @TheCMOClub, but would you mind sharing with us some of your go-to websites to stay up-to-date in our industry?

I like for macro trends and conversations. It’s a good 50,000-foot view. is also indispensable and has been my entire career. I do spend a lot of time reading about the spirits industry specifically – Mark Brown does an amazing job of aggregating industry news into a newsletter he sends out at 3 or 4 in the morning every week day. The guy is incredible!

When you’re not reading up on the spirits industry, what’re you reading or listening to? 

The Moth Radio Hour podcast. It’s truly the best storytelling out there and we as brands, as storytellers, can learn a lot by listening to real people tell their stories. It becomes clear what’s engaging about the human experience, and I’ve found many of those lessons deeply applicable to my work.

Let’s toast to your talk, “Cheers to the 1:1 Social Experience: A Conversation with Tito’s Handmade Vodka.” Can you give us a little teaser?

We’ll dive into how the power of word of mouth was the early engine in the growth of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and how we’ve managed the transition to the digital world, while remaining true to our roots.

Connect with Nicole on Twitter during #WOMMASummit @TitosNicole and check out her session, Cheers to the 1:1 Social Experience: A Conversation with Tito’s Handmade Vodka” at 3:00pm on Day 2.


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