Name: Caroline Watt
Job title: Brand manager – Malibu & Kahlúa
Company & location: Pernod Ricard UK, London
Education: Newcastle University – BSc Marketing & Management (First)
Why did you decide to go for a career in drinks? To be honest, I never planned on having a career in the drinks industry. My interest in marketing developed during my time at school when I studied business studies at GCSE level. I always found the various ways companies advertised their products fascinating.
However, it wasn’t until I undertook a year in industry on Pernod Ricard UK’s Bright Futures programme during my university studies that my interest in the drinks industry developed. I can’t go into a supermarket or bar now without scanning the shelves to see if our brands are listed.
Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): As a brand manager, I am the guardian of my brands. I am responsible for developing and implementing clear marketing strategies and campaigns built on consumer insights, and bringing new products to market all the way from ideation to execution.
What does a typical day look like for you? No two days are the same which is the beauty of my job. One day I could be in the office presenting the Kahlúa brand plan to key stakeholders or briefing the development of creative assets for a media campaign, and the next, I could be attending an experiential activation that we have created to bring the brand closer to consumers, or sampling a bespoke drinks strategy for on-trade customers.
Tell us about how you went about applying for your job. As I mentioned earlier, I started working for Pernod Ricard UK on their Bright Futures programme as the insights & marketing intern, undertaking a year in industry before my final year at university. There were several stages of the application including CV submission, phone interview, two assessment days with group activities and face-to-face interviews.
The experience I gained during my internship was invaluable, and when I graduated in July 2017, I was delighted to be offered a job as an assistant brand manager working across Malibu, Kahlúa and Havana Club rum. From there, I have continued to build on the knowledge and relationships I previously developed, and I progressed to brand manager last summer.
“Pernod Ricard UK promotes a great work/life balance with plenty of opportunities for convivial moments and socialising together”
What’s the best part about working for a drinks company? Without a doubt, it’s the people. The industry is such a sociable one to work within and because of this, I find myself surrounded by so many fantastic, like-minded individuals. Pernod Ricard UK promotes a great work/life balance with plenty of opportunities for convivial moments and socialising together, celebrating the work we are doing and experiencing our excellent brands.
And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in drinks? The first thing that most people say to me when I tell them I work for a drinks company is “I bet you are drinking and going out all the time”. The nature of my job means that we do get to attend some exciting events, but I am also office-based a lot of the time and face the same challenges as other businesses. The drinks industry is constantly evolving, and we have to be at the forefront of those changes, keeping up to date with trends and industry insights to ensure we are delivering products that answer consumer needs to ultimately maximise our wine and spirits sales.
What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the drinks industry? Undertaking a year in industry was an invaluable experience and one which I would highly recommend to anyone still studying. It will allow you to enrich your theoretical-based learning, putting your skills and knowledge into practice in a workplace environment. It will also allow you to establish if a particular role or industry is for you and it means you will be in a better position when it comes to applying for a permanent job as you can draw on the experience you have already gained.
What’s your ultimate career dream? In the short term, I would like to gain experience of different international markets at Pernod Ricard and enrich my existing skillset. I am still figuring out my ultimate career goal, but the key for me is to continue to work in a positive and supportive environment where people are seen as the heart of an organisation.