Craft Brew Alliance today announced the hiring of longtime beverage industry veteran Christine Perich, who will take over as the company’s chief financial and strategy officer on April 1.
Perich spent more than 16 years with New Belgium Brewing, serving as CEO, COO and CFO during that time. Over the last six months, she consulted for Owl’s Brew, which makes boozy teas and cocktail mixers and is partially owned by Anheuser-Busch’s ZX Ventures unit. Prior to that, she served as the CEO of World Waters, makers of WTRMLN WTR, but stepped down from her role due to personal health reasons.
“We are thrilled to welcome Christine into the CBA family,” said Andy Thomas, the CEO of CBA, via a press release. “Her extensive industry, finance and leadership experience, combined with her passion for people and culture, will be invaluable as we continue steering CBA forward in today’s changing market.”
Thomas, who had been searching for a new CFO since last July, when Joseph Vanderstelt departed the organization, told Brewbound that he had reconnected with Perich at a beer industry conference last November when a “light bulb went off.”
“I started thinking that we had an opportunity to bring Christine in, not just to be our head of finance, but to help lead the company into this next chapter of ours,” he said.
Perich, who will be based out of her home in Fort Collins, Colorado, said her “first job” would be to “understand what is going on, and get to know people.”
“I am going to do a lot of listening and learning,” she said. “Then I’ll be diving into the strategy and helping move that along.”
Asked how her experience as the CEO of a brewery and non-alcoholic beverage company would inform the types of decisions she makes at CBA, Perich said she looks forward to being a “right hand” to Thomas and helping him “grow the business.”
“My bread and butter is finance — that’s where I grew up,” she said. “I view the business through the financials and make calculated choices. The strategy umbrella gives me the opportunity to lean in differently, more than a CFO would.”
For his part, Thomas said he “values and respects” individuals, such as Perich, who have “strong personalities.”
“The first time I was on stage with Christine, it was clear that we both had an opinion on things,” he said. “We look at things, and consider the same factors, and even if we don’t arrive at the same place, we are thoughtful. And that’s empowering to me.”
Perich joins CBA at a time when larger beer companies are increasingly naming female leaders to key executive positions.
Earlier this week, Boston Beer Company hired Lesya Lysyj, the current U.S. president of Welch’s Foods Inc., as its new CMO.
In January, MillerCoors named Michelle St. Jacques, who had previously served as the global head of brands and capabilities at The Kraft Heinz Company, as its CMO.
And last September, Heineken’s Maggie Timoney took over as the CEO of the international beer maker’s U.S. division, becoming the first female executive to lead a top-five U.S. beer company in the process.
Asked last September by National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) CEO Craig Purser what “different perspective” she brings to the beer industry, Timoney said she would be judged on her results, not her gender.
Perich had a similar response when asked about the significance of a male-dominated industry finally seeing more females executives.
“A woman should be at the table because she is qualified, not because of her gender,” she said.
Men are overwhelmingly in key decision-making positions at the country’s largest beer companies, and Perich said she is an advocate of a more “balanced” approach.
“I don’t think if you have all men or all women, you get the best results,” she said.
For his part, Thomas said he believes the industry is playing “catch-up” and that more companies should take a more serious look at the “diversity of thought” among c-suite employees.
“The color or gender that comes with ‘diversity of thought’ is more sincere than if you start with the color of someone’s skin or gender itself,” he said. “We are decades behind in terms of understanding who consumers are, or what’s on their minds. We are starting to understand that people’s experiences lead them to think differently, and the more we can do to match those desires, the better off we will be.”
In an SEC filing, CBA outlined the details of Perich’s employment agreement, which is slated to end on December 31, 2020. She will receive an annual base salary of $290,000 throughout her 21-month term, and be eligible for bonuses equal to 65 percent of her annual base salary. She will also receive a $37,700 signing bonus and $65,250 worth of fully-vested common stock on April 1.
A press release with additional information on Perich’s hiring is below.
Craft Brew Alliance Announces Christine Perich as Chief Financial and Strategy Officer
Seasoned beverage industry leader brings over 25 years’ experience in finance, operations and strategy, with a focus on culture and sustainable growth
Portland, Ore. (March 28, 2019) – Craft Brew Alliance, Inc. (“CBA”) (Nasdaq: BREW), a leading craft brewing company, announced today the appointment of Christine Perich as Chief Financial and Strategy Officer, effective April 1, 2019. Perich will oversee financial operations and strategy for CBA, reporting to CEO Andy Thomas.
“We are thrilled to welcome Christine into the CBA family,” said Thomas. “Her extensive industry, finance and leadership experience, combined with her passion for people and culture, will be invaluable as we continue steering CBA forward in today’s changing market. Everyone who connected with Christine during the candidate introduction process was equally impressed by her strong background, her warmth and her charisma, and her diversity of perspective.”
Perich brings more than 25 years of experience in finance, operations, strategy and leadership to CBA. She spent 16 years at New Belgium Brewing Company, serving in successive leadership roles, including CFO, COO, and President and CEO until November 2016. Her leadership in developing New Belgium’s strategy and vision supported expansive business growth and significant advancements in employee healthcare and benefits. During her tenure, Perich helped grow New Belgium to the 4th largest craft brewery in the U.S. and oversaw the completion and integration of New Belgium’s second production facility in North Carolina.
“I have nothing but admiration for Andy and his leadership of CBA,” said Perich. “Personally, I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to work with him and the team and to bring my collective experiences, both within and outside of beer, and apply them to CBA’s business strategy. On a professional level, I’m also excited to merge my perspective and experience from my recent time in the non-alc space with the work that CBA has been doing to address today’s evolving consumer and think outside the box.”
Since 2017, Perich has expanded her leadership focus beyond the beer industry, establishing Perich Advisors, a strategy, culture and leadership development consultancy, and serving as CEO of WTRMLN WTR, a fast-growing juice brand, where she oversaw the successful launch of four new products, as well as major distribution expansion. Perich serves as an independent board member to HealthAde, makers of one of the fastest-growing Kombucha brands, and Laws Whiskey House, a grain-to-glass distillery based in Colorado. Perich holds a BS in Business Administration from Colorado State University, where she is also a member of the College of Business’ Global Leadership Council.
About Craft Brew Alliance
CBA is an independent craft brewing company that brews, brands, and brings to market world-class American craft beers.
Our distinctive portfolio combines the power of Kona Brewing Company, a dynamic, fast-growing national craft beer brand, with strong regional breweries and innovative lifestyle brands Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Cisco Brewers, Omission Brewing Co., Redhook Brewery, Square Mile Cider Co., Widmer Brothers Brewing, and Wynwood Brewing Co. CBA nurtures the growth and development of its brands in today’s increasingly competitive beer market through our state-of-the-art brewing and distribution capability, integrated sales and marketing infrastructure, and strong focus on partnerships, local community and sustainability.
Formed in 2008, CBA is headquartered in Portland, Oregon and operates breweries and brewpubs across the U.S. CBA beers are available in all 50 U.S. states and 30 different countries around the world. For more information about CBA and our brands, please visit www.craftbrew.com.