Name: Alexander Klismo
Job title: Brand manager – Malibu portfolio, innovation & sustainability
Company & location: The Absolut Company, Sweden
Education: Stockholm University – BSc in Business & Economics
Why did you decide to go for a career in drinks? Food and drink have always been a passion of mine – whether it’s inviting friends over for dinner or trying out a new bar. My role at The Absolut Company means I can work in the area I love every day. I have also always had a real interest in brand building and am constantly keeping an eye out for brands who are creating an impact around the world, regardless of their industry. Working at The Absolut Company has given me insight into how huge brands are managed, as well as the amazing and varied people behind them. So, when The Absolut Company had an open position for Malibu & Kahlúa, it was a no-brainer. I went all in!
Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): My job is all about building our brands to become the drink of choice for people when they’re enjoying moments together with their friends and family. You know when you say to your friend, “should we go for a drink?” My job is trying to make that drink Malibu.
What does a typical day look like for you? In my current role as global brand manager portfolio, innovation and sustainability, a typical day is a mix of looking at what’s happening in front of us right now and looking three to five years ahead at what is about to come. For example, thinking about where we want to take the brand and what challenges can we anticipate and act to mitigate or capitalise on today. This combination of current cultural relevance, and an eye on the future is what makes us so interesting and appealing to our consumers.
“The best part of my job is that I’m helping to create moments of connection and joy”
Working in a global organisation also means a lot of meetings with partners and colleagues who are based all over the world. If I’m lucky there’s even some travelling involved. I recently had the opportunity to spend five days in the Philippines, talking to the partners and farmers involved in our Coconut Commitment Project. This initiative aims to improve the livelihoods of the 500 coconut farmers we’re working with who depend on coconut farming as a vital source of income.
I find working with these diverse teams and people so enriching. It reminds me every day how big the world is!
Tell us about how you went about applying for your job. I was actively looking for a role in companies that shared my values and beliefs, as well as somewhere I could see myself building a career over time. Pernod Ricard and The Absolut Company was one of them. So, when a marketing intern position opened up in the brand strategy team for Malibu and Kahlúa, I sent my resumé right away! I met the brand directors for both brands, including the HR business partner, and didn’t have much work experience to sell – all I could do was to be myself and explain why I would be their best choice. It worked!
What’s the best part about working for a drinks company? The best part is the grey zone between what is work and what is “just for fun”. For example, I get to learn cocktail recipes and food pairings at work. Though really, the best part of my job is that I’m helping to create moments of connection and joy – that we call “convivial moments” – for people all around the world.
And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? That you drink all the time! While we spend a lot of time talking about drinks, drink brands, restaurants, and bars – we’re not drinking all the time. In fact, I have many colleagues who don’t drink for many different reasons which is, of course, absolutely fine. Pernod Ricard is all about creating moments to be shared – it doesn’t necessarily have to include alcohol.
What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? In my experience, it’s not just about the products – it’s about the people. To work within food and drink you don’t have to be a Michelin cook or a master blender with excellent tastebuds. You have to understand people to create experiences, products, brands and moments that they love.
What’s your ultimate career dream? A dream of mine is using everything I’ve learnt to start my own brand. It doesn’t have to be within the drinks industry, though that would be a bonus!