Upward Citizen Spotlight: WSET Americas



“Through best-in-class education, we’re creating a pool of more educated and discerning drinks trade professionals and consumer enthusiasts. The more educated people are about our industry, the more likely they are to be responsible and promote responsible behavior.” - Dave Rudman, DipWSET, Executive Director of WSET Americas


For the past 50 years, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust - often referred to as WSET (pronounced W-S-E-T) - has been regarded as the global leader in wine and spirits education. From wines to spirits to sake, WSET empowers its candidates to pursue the most desirable roles within the global beverage industry, as well as foster an ecosystem of responsible consumption and pristine product quality for generations to come.


In its 49th year, UK-based WSET hired its first American employee to bolster the organization’s presence throughout North, South, and Central America: Rocky Hill, Connecticut native, Dave Rudman. Over the last 22 months, Dave has headquartered WSET Americas at Upward Hartford: growing the Americas subsidiary from 1 to 12 employees - including 5 based in the Hartford office - and setting a new growth record for WSET Americas’ annual candidate numbers - a staggering +26% increase in in 2018/19 compared to a global growth rate of 15%.


From a single dedicated desk in 2018, to two private offices for 5 employees in 2019, WSET Americas Executive Director Dave Rudman continues to grow within Upward Hartford's downtown innovation hub.

As you gently swirl your vintage Merlot, or drop another chilled rock into your signature whiskey, you may be wondering,


"How do I get certified in wines, spirits, or sake?"


While you can technically only hold a globally recognized WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines, WSET offers different qualification levels depending on your chosen track in wines, spirits, or sake. Individuals can pursue awards in Levels 1-4 on the Wine track (with the 4th level affording you the coveted WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines - a rare feat!), Levels 1-3 Awards in Spirits, and Levels 1 and 3 Awards in Sake, with the top award in each category denoting the highest level of expertise.


Upon choosing a course, students choose their course provider from WSET's network of Approved Program Providers - or "APPs" - across 75 countries, enroll accordingly, and begin to study for their WSET exam. Successful completion of each course awards a professional accolade that is revered by the global drinks industry.




Now, as you sip your warm sake, you may think to yourself,


"I was born to do this! I've got to get over to Upward Hartford to take a WSET course ASAP!"



To be clear, Dave and his Upward Hartford-based team are not course providers themselves: they are the stewards of the WSET brand and the preservationists of quality wine, spirits, and sake education throughout the Americas. However, in case you missed this link to Approved Program Providers in your area, feel free to connect with them so they can direct you to your nearest APPs! Meet the fast-growing WSET Hartford team below:



Dave Rudman, DipWSET

Executive Director, WSET Americas

Connect with Dave on LinkedIn





Anne Byrne

Finance & Administrative Manager,

WSET Americas

Connect with Anne on LinkedIn




Jessica Heyse

Business Development Coordinator,

WSET Americas

Connect with Jessica on LinkedIn





Katrina Riggs

Quality Assurance Assistant,

WSET Americas

Connect with Katrina on LinkedIn





Kimberly Dupuis

Brand Manager,

WSET Americas

Connect with Kimberly on LinkedIn





After a record-breaking 2019, WSET Americas is looking toward an even more successful 2020. "Our US business grew 24% in 2018, and increased to 26% this year...we're aiming to continue this growth pattern both here in the States and throughout other international markets in our territory," said Rudman. Mexico is one market in the Americas that is experiencing impressive year-over-year growth, with a tremendous spike of 157% in WSET award candidacy in 2019. With 4 new hires at HQ, we are eagerly anticipating another record-shattering year for Upward Citizens WSET Americas!


QA Assistant Katrina Riggs and Business Development Coordinator Jessica Heyse are two of WSET's newest hires working from the Upward Hartford office

Ready to become certified in wines, spirits, or sake? Start by identifying course providers nearest you here https://www.wsetglobal.com/where-to-study/.