Saoirse O'Driscoll, Assistant Brand Manager, Jameson Irish Distillers
What does your job involve?
As Assistant Brand manager in this team I work on a wide range of projects. On the portfolio side this could involve working on new product launches, designing packaging or redesigning packaging for existing products. If you see a Jameson shelf display in an off-licence, it’s been designed by my team. You get to see the results, and that makes it exciting to work with such a big brand.
What skills do you need for success?
In my three years on the international graduate programme there were three skill sets that helped me through those three years and to get to where I am today. Having initiative and being a self starter – looking for opportunities and seizing them when they are thrown at you in an amazing programme like this. Try to leverage those opportunities with your brand. This could mean looking at a new bar that’s opening with bartenders who reflect the values of Jameson and might make good brand ambassadors. Or you might collaborate with a blogger who wants to help build brand awareness. Creativity, like out of the box thinking, perhaps taking an already established idea and adapting it to the country you’re in and putting your own twist on it. Being on the Jameson international graduate programme is amazing because you’re part of a global community of brand ambassadors. In my three years there are 70 of us, and we really get to bounce ideas off each other. Adaptability is also key. I did three years in Cyprus, France and Sweden, and of course you need to adapt to the food, clothing etc, but also the work culture. Every country has its own character, but you also have your team culture to adapt to, both your local team and your international team back in Dublin. It’s an entrepreneurial mindset, getting out there and making the most of your opportunities.
What experiences helped build your skills?
I went in a little doe-eyed after four years of university. The skill that helped me most was having a language, French, which was hugely beneficial for this graduate programme because it is so international. What I learned in those three years was that no matter how fluent you are in a language, you’re never really going to know all of the terms. Even going to an English speaking country you may not understand a lot of the things they’re saying. I was nervous that my French wasn’t up to par but a lot of people are at the same level and you really grow. “Be yourself” was something that was said to me in my second year and was important to hear, especially working with such an international brand. You really want to reflect the people they’re targeting, but at the end of the day they hire you for you, because that’s who you showcase in your interview. In my three years I developed myself as a person and as a professional.
What advice would you give a first year student?
Irish Distillers is part of the FMG (Fast Moving Goods) sector, and it’s called fast moving for a reason. Be a go-getter and avail of the opportunities that are on your doorstep in university. You have three or four years to join clubs and societies or set up your own, learn a language, do an internship. You have a,lot of time to make an impact and build yourself into an employable person. It’s all about making the most of those opportunities and stepping outside your comfort zone.