Throughout college, Megan Bulsara assumed she’d become a lawyer. “Luckily, I worked in a law firm and realized they were all miserable,” she says with a sigh of relief. After earning her bachelor’s degree in political science, she transitioned away from law and into the music industry doing marketing and event coordination. At the time, beer was just a (delicious) hobby.
“Had I known this was a career path, I might have chosen it a little bit earlier,” says Bulsara.
As the Director of Operations at Fall Brewing Company, Bulsara is basically the attending surgeon of the enterprise—the person responsible for keeping everything running and making adjustments as she goes. Her days start long before she enters the brewery; priority number one is getting her child to school, then heading to the brewery for a few productive hours before the thirsty crowds descend. Her to-do list is never-ending: check timecards, update inventory, respond to emails, schedule deliveries, pull permits for upcoming events, filing, and so on. That’s not even mentioning bigger initiatives like developing employee morale programs, remembering birthdays, planning the future release calendar, or handling human resources.
Bulsara explains her role as “always being prepared, or trying your best to be prepared and adjusting as soon as things change… being able to see the big picture, backing it out into all the little steps that need to happen before that, and figuring out what you need from each person and when you need it.”
Once Fall opens at 11 a.m., her day can descend into chaos if she isn’t careful. With fewer than two dozen employees, everyone tends to wear a lot of hats (Bulsara included). In fact, when I get to the brewery for this interview, she’s behind the bar pouring pints so that the beertender on duty can take a break.
She credits motherhood with teaching her some of the most valuable skill sets of the job, like empathy and time management. “I think as a mom, you focus so much on making sure you’re approaching someone in the right way, and your patience is tested to the limit.”
Additional skills like efficiency, adaptability, multitasking, and proactivity—skills valued in her previous career that small breweries sometimes lack—were exactly what Fall was looking for when they brought her on board just over two years ago. She’s well-suited for the role, describing herself as “very detail-oriented” when it comes to the behind-the-scenes details that most consumers never even stop to consider.
“On my business card, in addition to Director of Operations, it says ‘Cat Herder’, which is how I feel some of the time,” laughs Bulsara.
While women are filling more and more positions in the beer industry, it seems many of those roles are low- to mid-level, front-facing jobs, such as beertending or public relations. It’s still comparatively uncommon for women to get to a director level. That’s not relegated to the beer industry; in 2017, the ratio of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies reached an all-time high of 6.4%. (It’s since dropped to 4.8% according to the 2018 Pew Research Center fact sheet “The Data on Women Leaders”.)
Bulsara hopes that more women realize there are more opportunities at the top of brewery hierarchies. “I would love to see more women at higher levels… I definitely think women, we tend to underestimate ourselves. So, always go forward and be confident in the skill set that you’re bringing. We can get into all these industries if we believe in ourselves.”
Until women manage to successfully dominate the upper echelons of the craft beer industry (fingers crossed!), Bulsara can most likely be found enjoying a good barleywine with friends. “The [local beer] community is great,” she says. “The people are amazing. The people have always been amazing.”
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