Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high-quality outsourced accounting at an affordable price. Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the workforce after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were previously overlooked. Protea strives to represent people from all backgrounds and provide an environment for them to grow and succeed in a setting that provides the flexibility and acceptance of who they are as people.
We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.
Protea Conversations in 2023 will focus on positive transformation and representation from all backgrounds. We are broadening our Conversations with the hope that these conversations will continue to create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges leaders face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.
In January 2023 we spend time with Theresa Wray owner of Clarity & Co.
Theresa’s career in the wine industry spans 17 years, helping wineries, importers and distributors turn their marketing challenges into successes. Her corporate experience includes 13 years with Maisons Marques & Domaines, leading marketing operations for the renowned luxury portfolio of brands.
She started Clarity & Co in 2020 to continue this work with a more custom approach. Clarity & Co specializes in marketing and US market consulting for wine & spirits, and partners with both domestic and imported brands. Theresa graduated from Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo on California’s Central Coast, and holds the WSET III Advanced wine certification. Learn more at www.clarityandco.com.
Tell us a little more about your decision to focus on marketing and how you specifically got involved in the wine industry? What made you decide to start your own business?
I graduated from Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo on California’s Central Coast with a major in Business/Finance and a minor in Spanish. Early on, I did short stints at investment and insurance companies, peppering in some travel. These positions didn’t quite feel like the right fit, so after a little soul-searching, I decided to pursue work at a Communications agency servicing many industries. I later moved to a marketing & communications role at a fantastic wine importer. Working with a portfolio of international wineries is where I felt at home and thrived on the challenges it presented.
Launching my own business was a goal I had considered for a while, but I didn’t act on it until 2020. This decision was driven by wanting more control over my schedule (something especially important for parents in 2020!) and wanting to help clients with a more custom approach. After many years in corporate positions, it was a challenge that I was ready to take on.
What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?
I always strive to find the right mix of family time and professional endeavors.
There is never a perfect mix, so the challenge is to manage it well. I believe strongly in making time for exercise and continuous education, so I’m also always looking to carve out time for those things.
What are your short-term goals for your career and yourself?
I’m continually trying to identify specific challenges that small to mid-sized wineries face related to marketing and operations in the US market.
Pin-pointing those challenges and offering specific solutions is the short-term goal. I enjoy connecting with other like-minded professionals about this!
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?
Sometimes you have to step back to see the big picture, and you can only sometimes see the answer when you are laser-focused and moving too fast. Give yourself space to reflect and be true to yourself.
What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?
It’s OK to make mistakes. Early on, I was a bit timid and worried about asking the wrong thing. It’s true for any industry or challenge: It’s smart to observe first, but don’t be too shy. Try new things. Reach out and ask questions.
What advice do you give to others to help them be better leaders?
First, talk to your team to see how you can help them be more effective. Next, talk to people outside your discipline and your industry; you will always walk away with a new perspective.
Can you share something interesting about yourself that will provide insight into who you are outside of the professional space?
Growing up, I spent a lot of time on the basketball court and soccer field. Now I find myself doing the same, but this time it’s for my 2 daughters. My husband and I laugh at ourselves often, showing up with everything – chairs, water bottles, snacks, you name it!
As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will donate to Canine Companions (https://canine.org/). Canine Companions is leading the service dog industry so their clients and their dogs can live with greater independence. They provide service dogs to adults, children and veterans with disabilities and facility dogs to professionals working in healthcare, criminal justice and educational settings. Since our founding in 1975, our dogs and all follow-up services are provided at no cost to our clients.
Independence shouldn’t be limited to those who look or live a certain way. Disability reaches all races, classes and backgrounds, and Canine Companions will too. Clients come to Canine Companions because of our reputation, the quality of our dogs, the experience of our training staff and the desire to lead life with greater independence. We are committed to providing services to all qualified clients.
Protea Conversations Let You Expand Your Network
Connect with industry leaders and expand your network. Our goal here at Protea Financial is to work with people from every industry possible. Reach your goals with the help of people who care.