Hoya Highlight: Erica Nonni (C'03)

Erica Nonni

Managing Director, Nonni Strategic Marketing

Describe your current position and what led you to your job:

I run a wine and food marketing company, Nonni Strategic Marketing. We manage import strategy, media relations, event marketing, and B2B promotions of wine and food brands and products in the U.S. market. Most of our work is with imports. I formed the company after working across a range of agency disciplines, from advertising agency project management right after Georgetown, to a marketing stint in digital and web marketing, to a boutique, and then a midsize PR agency. I also worked in-house as marketing director for a wine merchant. That breadth of experience in the marketing sphere, paired with wine education and work experience in the U.S., U.K., Italy, and France brought me to where I am today. Learning about building connections across borders and disciplines has helped me a lot. Georgetown remains an important part of my business life, from volunteering as New York director of the Georgetown Entertainment and Media Alliance to hiring fellow Hoyas as my business has grown.

What has been the most rewarding moment in your career?

That's a difficult question! Pulling off a large event to the satisfaction of clients, guests, and colleagues is always a great feeling. Some of the most enjoyable moments have involved getting to taste very rare, valuable wines and traveling to interesting places.

What is the best career advice you have received?

Not to be afraid to change jobs or disciplines within marketing and to value relationships above everything else. Opportunity has a way of showing up in unexpected places. All experiences and connections are valuable.

What would you recommend to someone interested in working in your field?

Having enthusiasm for the food and beverage sector is, of course, a good start. I think it's also important to be able to make genuine personal connections and serve as a source of information and opportunities for others. I deal with people across many areas of the production and promotion chain. That ecosystem is always presenting opportunities to connect people who can help one another.

What challenges have you faced and how did you successfully manage one situation?

My industry is a competitive space. Many people want to work with food and wine. Marketing - although full of tools to master - doesn't require a particular degree or a very specific, quantifiable skill set, so it's an attractive and comparatively accessible career choice. This means you have to find creative ways to add value. It's a competitive scene. Ingenuity is rewarded. Seeking out new skills, staying on top of trends, and leveraging connections for new business opportunities while doing my day job can be a challenge. The paperwork of running a business is another: when you're the owner and the HR department and the logistics manager, you have to manage and delegate well. Some things I'm doing right now are learning Spanish in order to better serve a new client and navigating the new world of co-working / networking spaces to optimize my and team's day-to-day experience.

What skills are necessary or what prepared you the most for your career?

My Georgetown education helps me a lot. I learned (and still learn) through my Georgetown experiences how to present ideas confidently and collaboratively. Marketing – and public relations in particular - is an inherently social discipline, so a good sense of humor and an effective leadership style are crucial. 

What professional associations have aided in your professional development?

The Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) offers professional certifications that are well-regarded in my industry. Earning the Advanced Certificate helped me stand out. The Georgetown Entertainment and Media Alliance is a great network. LinkedIn groups can be helpful.