A date with destiny

A PwC alumnus takes his own advice and makes an accelerated
transition—from leading a global consulting practice to running
a vineyard halfway around the world.

Image:Mike Spratt

Mike Spratt, a retired PwC partner, author and now a winery owner, fell in love with New Zealand.

On a warm afternoon in February 2000, Mike and Ann Spratt stood on a hill overlooking a lush valley on Waiheke Island, New Zealand. Ann casually mentioned the idea of buying some of the land that stretched out before them and planting a few grape vines. Spratt—a PwC partner in San Francisco—couldn’t have known at the time how Ann’s offhand comment would kick-start a major career change for him and launch the entire family into a winemaking venture several time zones away from everything they’d ever known. That day, the Spratts planted the seed for what would become Destiny Bay, now known as one of the finest artisan vineyards in New Zealand.

No stranger to change

Given that Spratt specialized in helping companies make big moves, his dramatic career change should have been no surprise. He had built a successful consulting practice around assisting companies—primarily technology companies like Advanced Micro Devices and Hewlett- Packard—with mergers and growth through acquisition.

His career was fast-paced and required long hours. “It was an emerging line of business, so there were constant demands to be available for a key sales meeting, launch an assignment or assist in business development. This meant lots of travel,” Spratt recalls. “I worked for or consulted to more than a hundred technology-based companies around the world.”

In 1996, Spratt joined PwC and became a part of the growing Accelerated Transition practice. In addition to helping clients, he worked to cement PwC’s leadership in the practice area—training staff, writing articles, speaking at industry events and developing new client relationships.

As if that wasn’t demanding enough, in the summer of 1996 Spratt and his fellow PwC partner, Mark Feldman, set out to write a book addressing some of the lessons they’d learned firsthand in their many years guiding companies through mergers and acquisitions.