Ganesh Iyer - Perseverance And Finally The Grit Required To Do So (Managing Partner at Veen Waters India, India’s 1st Water Sommelier)


Everything that you do begins with WHY or the purpose of it and likewise in the case of being a water sommelier. You need to know the reason for your interest in being a water sommelier, a profession that is quite nascent in India.

1. Please share your background and journey with us?

I am a Commerce Graduate with an acute interest in beverages that includes alcoholic and nonalcoholic and I specialize in the understanding of Water among all beverages. 

My core expertise has been sales and brand management with HoReCa as a channel and I have been part of this channel since the late 90s.

2. What are the qualifications or skills required to become a water sommelier?

Everything that you do begins with WHY or the purpose of it and likewise in the case of being a water sommelier. 

You need to know the reason for your interest in being a water sommelier, a profession that is quite nascent in India. I guess one needs to be driven by the inquisitiveness of knowing about a resource that is older than the Earth. Anyone can become a water sommelier as long as there is a genuine interest in understanding water.

3. How do you measure the recall of your creative ads or in-stadium displays and activities? Moreover, how do you assess the correct association of your brand with these ads and activities?

VEEN as a brand is primarily catered to HoReCa and yes on and off depending upon the scope of the activity we do extend the brand presence for such activities as the one we did for The European Cricket League as being the official Natural Mineral Water brand.

4. Apart from lack of awareness, what other challenges do water sommeliers face in India?

The hospitality world and more categorically the culinary world have opened up thanks to global exposure. Today some of the finest restaurants in India regularly find mention in the leading culinary table forums. 

Given this premise, and the kind of innovation that we are witnessing specifically in the beverage arena in India wherein every month there’s a new brand of either white or brown spirits, fine dines and stand-alone restaurants will sooner or later have water sommeliers in tandem with wine sommeliers to explain discerning audience the nuances of spirits, its pairing and finally with water because remember close to 85% of any beverage is water.

5. How do you evaluate the impact of your IPL activities on enhancing brand perceptions and imagery?

We are an out-and-out HoReCa brand and all our activities are strictly restricted to hotel venues or high-end conferencing venues that our consumers frequent. 

We haven’t done nor seen any scope at this juncture to go mass on a platform such as IPL.

6. What is the most significant life lesson you have learned so far, and what advice would you give to future marketers?

There are a few underlying factors that, according to me, are critical and detrimental to one’s success.

  • Persistence
  • Perseverance and finally the Grit required to do so. Learnings are and have always been at the doorstep of the consumer or the customer depending upon whether you are a D2C or B2B brand.

7. In your opinion, is it important to assess whether the recall of your brand is influenced by the performance of your team?

Companies that have withstood the test of time are the ones whose cornerstone of success is primarily driven by the values that they stand for and that value system is deeply ingrained in every activity undertaken by the team. 

Needless to say, this drives the performance of the brand in the market and that same set of values are reflective of how well the brand is received in the whole business cycle.

Brief Bio:

Managing Director at Veen Waters India Pvt Ltd. and India’s 1st Water Sommelier 

Mr.  Ganesh Iyer is India’s first and only certified water sommelier. He has been instrumental in the launch of various beverage brands such as Evian, Ferrarelle, Himalayan Glenmorangie, Smirnoff Black, Orangina, Perrier, and Qua in the Indian market. Mr. Iyer’s association with the water industry has spanned over 20 years and his expertise provides technical support to the many palatable characteristics of water.

With this new certification, Mr. Iyer has received sensorial training to understand different water types. Gauging the origin, composition, and nutritional benefits by which waters can be distinguished, Mr. Iyer’s ‘Water Sommelier’ accreditation is a unique contribution to understanding the nuances and varied properties of water.

When it comes to beverages, Ganesh Iyer knows a thing or two about the industry.     A dynamic & consummate Sales Professional with close to two decades of proven expertise in Sales with domain expertise in HORECA on a Pan India basis in Beverages (Alcobev/Non-Alcobev).

From breaking into an untapped market to introducing a completely new category of glass-bottled premium mineral water, Iyer has been the driving force behind brands that are well-known household names today. With his veteran expertise in brand building, sales, and marketing, Iyer has successfully created a niche for Natural Mineral Waters in Glass bottles with VEEN in India since its launch in 2012.

His expertise lies in revenue expansion with a key focus on top-line and bottom-line profitability, budgeting and cost control, audits and statuary compliances, market research and intelligence, and trend analysis.

Passionate about environmental causes, also an active Greenpeace donor, Ganesh strives to continue to build awareness about the positive impact of natural mineral waters in Glass with VEEN at the forefront. When he’s not at work, he is busy trying to perfect his backhand in the game of tennis.


About Zero Percent:

The Zero Percent Shop is the first of its kind, the shop focuses on a unique selection of curated food and beverage brands in the categories of 0% alcohol, 0% dairy, 0% pesticides, 0% sugar, 0% microplastic, 0% meat, and Fine Water to empower the mindful consumption movement by building awareness and making zero-percent brands easily accessible to people who want to consume more responsibly, whilst still enjoying themselves.


 Interviewed by - Aarya Gode

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