Speaker 1 00:00:12 Welcome to Genuine Humans, exploring the stories behind the great marketing leaders of our time and hearing how their journeys have influenced the brand they've built, brought to you by the social element. Here are our hosts to Mara Littleton, CEO, e o and founder, and Wendy Christie, chief People Officer.
Speaker 2 00:00:43 Welcome back to Genuine Humans Podcast. And I'm here as always with Wendy Christie, our lovely co-host. Hello, Wendy. Hey Tamara. How are you doing? I'm doing good, and thank you for letting me have a little holiday and looking after the entire company last week. While most of the exec all disappeared on the same week. I'll,
Speaker 1 00:01:00 I'll, I'll run through all the changes I've made with you later, <laugh>.
Speaker 2 00:01:04 So we are absolutely delighted to have, uh, someone with us. Diagio is actually a, a client of us. We've been so happy to be working with them for a number of years. And we are joined today by Edward Pilkington, who's the Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer at Diagio North America. Welcome, Edward.
Speaker 3 00:01:23 Thanks a lot. Cheers. Thanks. Uh, thanks Damara. Cheers. Hi, Wendy.
Speaker 2 00:01:26 So it is great to, to have you here with us and Edward, I I want to sort of like get you to go through a little journey with us, uh, of your, your early career because I'm keen to know what attracted you to marketing in the first place and, and if you could give us just a little bit of a walkthrough of how you've got to where you are now.
Speaker 3 00:01:46 So my why, why marketing? Interesting. I grew up in a family. My dad's a lawyer, my mother's a physiotherapist. My sister's a an accountant lawyer. So everyone went into different areas. I've got families of engineers and I didn't wanna do any of that, but I started to get increasingly interested in the idea of selling things. And I had some holiday jobs where I was selling and I started to sort of dabble in it when I was at university. And I thought this was really interesting. And I just liked the idea of, dare I say, persuading people to buy things I thought was really interesting. And I think I was just interested in human behavior. I liked history, understanding what had happened in the past, why people did what they did, which influenced the world. And at one level, you know, a big part, clearly massive part of marketing is understanding people and behaviors and why they do what they do.
Speaker 3 00:02:30 And I just thought it was really interesting. So I, I, when I was at university, thinking about what do I do with my life, <laugh>, what I need to get a job at some stage, I just read up on marketing cuz I was doing languages, politics, history, economics. I was doing a classic sort of what they'd say here as a liberal arts degree. But it just seemed really interesting. And I say when I was, I had a little business, I remember once where we sounds very dated now, but you know, selling ties. One summer I just got a load of ties and was selling them to different people and I really enjoyed it and I got a buzz out of the sale and it was just exciting. And then I wanted to do that around the world. I'd traveled a bit as a kid, I'd lived in Spain, uh, a year out before university.
Speaker 3 00:03:06 I'd lived in Mexico when I was at university as well. And I, there's a big world out there and I wanted to go and see the world and travel and live in different cultures. So my goal was really simple. I wanted to sell stuff around the world. That was my vision. And I was very lucky with that vision when I was looking for jobs as a graduate trainee to look for big international companies that would give me a really good training. And I was very fortunate to join what was Zane Guinness who had a fantastic training program. They had great brands, particularly had a fantastic brand in Guinness, which I loved and enjoyed drinking when I was a student and still enjoyed drinking. And that was it basically. So, and here I am quite a few years later and I'm still selling stuff around the world and helping people to buy stuff around the world. So that would be sort of the why marketing.
Speaker 2 00:03:48 Yeah. Yeah. And, and do you, did you kind of just go all the way through Diagio or have you sort of stepped outside of, of Diagio at all?
Speaker 3 00:03:57 So I, I started at Diagio and I, I stepped outside. So my first job was, was brilliant actually my first job, I was very lucky. I worked in the Caribbean or Caribbean depending on where you are. Uh, I'm now find myself saying Caribbean as I'm, I've been living over here for many years and it was a very good commercial role. It was great. I was the assistant country manager for the Caribbean. I spent most of my time in place like Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the French Islands. Uh, and it was fantastic. And apart from being 23 and cruising around the Caribbean, it was very commercial. I learned a lot about business in general, working with distributors, how we manage it. We were acquiring distributors. So I got involved in sort of acquisitions at the time and it was a fantastic sort of all round education for me in terms of business and brands.
Speaker 3 00:04:37 And I started, but I started getting really interested in, in brands and how brands were built cuz that was that, that elements of sort of, again, back to my point about I wanted to sell things I was just interested in, you know, why people chose one brand ahead of another and we had a great portfolio. So I did a brief, uh, at the end of two years in the Caribbean. I thought, I can't spend the rest of my life in the Caribbean much as it's amazing, this probably isn't the space to be, I'm gonna niche myself. So I went back, did a job in London in strategy cause I really enjoyed the strategic part of things. So just did that for about nearly a year doing lots of work around our portor portfolio strategy, competitor tracking, all that sort of stuff. But then I thought I quite, I was interested in becoming a brand manager.
Speaker 3 00:05:13 I thought, I want to go run our brand for a period of time. I really interested in this. So actually I left and went to L'Oreal for a couple of years, which was fabulous, amazing organization, hugely successful organization with an amazing feel for brands and a great portfolio. And went there, had a couple of years in London working for L'Oreal, which I learned a lot, spent a lot of time over in France. Was heavily involved in the launch of lv, the shampoo and conditioner now sort of brand. So we were the lead market. So that was amazing. Learned a lot, uh, learned a lot about, you know, um, innovation. Learned a lot about working at pace, learned about lot about the consumer, learned a lot about being in highly competitive environment, all that stuff. So it was brilliant, but then I had an opportunity to, to basically come back to the Aggio and it was a good opportunity.
Speaker 3 00:05:51 So with quite a heavy heart, cause I love L'Oreal actually. I left and came back cause I thought that was probably where I wanted to be. Long-term. Came back, did a brief stint in the uk but then started traveling again and went out to Miami and did a job in innovation. So I was the first head of innovation for Latin America for Diagio. Uh, it was me and my basically suitcase and sort of traveled around Latin America. But it was interesting cuz we were still pretty new as the Aggio. So we did a lot of work as well back on the strategic side, on portfolio strategy, looking at where we wanted to compete. Did we want to be in a local brands? Did we want to be just about premium brands, imported brands? Um, so it's fascinated. We, it was a time when we were launching Smirnoff Ice globally, which was a huge success.
Speaker 3 00:06:32 So I was actually the Smirnoff Ice person for Brazil and for Latin America. And part of the, the launch, and that's obviously, it's 21 years since we launched Man of Ice, which is amazing actually. So that was fascinating. And we were selling brands as well, uh, which was interesting. So I got involved in disposals and acquisitions. So it was, it was a mix of innovation, creating brands and actually portfolio strategy, uh, and launching new things as well. So it was a brilliant period. But then after that, having done that, and I, I suppose I was lucky because doing that had quite a lot of visibility at the time of the merger. Uh, I got moved to Amsterdam, we were setting an office up in Amsterdam for our global brands, and I went to run Malibu, which we no longer own, but I was the global brand director for Malibu.
Speaker 3 00:07:10 And I love that because, uh, running a brand globally I think is a fantastic experience because you spend your day, you know, all your, almost a lot of your waking hours, just thinking about that brand and how it works and being clear about what the brand is all about at a global level, how it is positioned, but understanding the nuances around the world about how it works and making sure you are, you know, you're clear of the, the similarities, but you're also clear of the differences, which are often cultural differences. So I did definitely three years, but for various reasons we had to sell the brand. Notably, we were, we bought Seagram or half of Seagram, and with that came brands like Captain Morgan, which are amazing brands. And for better, for worse, and for in the infinite wisdom, the Federal Trade Commission were not particularly happy about us continuing to owe Malibu.
Speaker 3 00:07:51 So we sold it, uh, for quite a lot of money, which was great. And a lot more money than we would've done had we had, we sold it three years previously when I took over the brand. So I suppose that felt good. Uh, and I always look at it with a, you know, a degree of fondness as I look at it now, even though it's run by one of our competitors. So I did that and it was a bit like, where do I go now? And I went down to Australia. I wanted to run a sort of broaden out, get back into a, a market. So I went to be the head of marketing, so marketing director for um, Australia, which was amazing. Which is a, at the time I think it was about our fifth biggest business globally, fully integrated business. So I learned about running a marketing department, sitting on an executive team.
Speaker 3 00:08:25 We had a great portfolio. Bundy Run was our biggest brand. Had a lot of fun, learned about convenience. R t d Ready, Tori was a huge part of the portfolio. It was over 50% of the business. So again, I learned about sort of a different part of the portfolio, how to build out a ready to drink business. It was a fully integrated business. You know, supply was down there because obviously you're a long way away. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and just living Australia was amazing. The lifestyle was great. It was a work hard play, hard type of culture, which was, uh, which was a lot of fun. So I did that for two and a half years, was blissfully enjoying it. And then, then they sort of took me away, dragging, kicking and screaming. I was like, no, I'm really happy here. <laugh> <laugh>. Like, no, we think you need another opportunity to learn and grow as a leader.
Speaker 3 00:09:04 And I said, no, I'm really happy, honestly, I can learn and grow more here <laugh>. Anyway, so they took me away from living on the beach in, uh, in Sydney. And I moved back to Miami where I'd been before. And I went to be the head of marketing innovation. So basically the CMO for Latin America. And I did that for five years, which was amazing because it was a time when Latin America was really booming. Uh, Mexico was growing, Brazil was taking off, Columbia was going through a big change, uh, very positive change. Chavez was still in Venezuela, but people were still, uh, enjoying plenty of scotch whiskey as well, which is great. So it was a fascinating period and we really invested in the markets and grew and had a lot of fun. And I spent a lot of time traveling around the markets and I've got a huge affection for Latin America.
Speaker 3 00:09:44 As I mentioned earlier, I lived in Mexico when I was a student and I've traveled around, so, so it was amazing. So personally, it was amazing. Loved it. Worked with some amazing people, you know, just a very warm culture full of possibility, which was, which was fantastic. So I did that for five years, was again, bliss, really happy, really enjoying it. Also live pretty much on the beach. So I was having a good time. And then, uh, my then boss said, right, you've pretty much had 10 years living on a beach. We're gonna move you back to Amsterdam. So again, semi kicking and screaming. I was, uh, I moved back to Amsterdam, couldn't find a beach, but I did live on a canal <laugh>. So that was the, that was the closest thing I could, I could find to it lived on a canal for two and a half years, not physically on a canal, but let's do it to be clear on a canal boat.
Speaker 3 00:10:22 And I was the head of gin volker and rum globally for us. So I was a global category head, uh, which was a lot of fun. Again, traveled around, traveled around the world, which is great. Really enjoyed that. Looking at our vodka portfolio strategy, it was a time when we did our deal on Zappa, which is a lovely premium rum, uh, which was great. And we're building out Captain Morgan into a really big global brand, which was fun. So really enjoying that. But then again, uh, enjoying life over there. I got moved to Europe to be the CMO of Europe a time. It was Western Europe initially. And a and a lot of businesses at the time were doing western Europe as a sort of model. And we were about 23 markets operating essentially as one business unit across 23 markets, which really was about driving efficiency at the time where most, a lot of European businesses were declining.
Speaker 3 00:11:06 Our business wasn't decline in Europe and it was a bit like the old continent. And you know, having worked in so-called emerging economies, a lot of businesses were putting money into emerging economies. So I went there and I remember thinking, I don't believe this business is gonna keep declining cuz you know, having lived in Amsterdam and gone to London and traveled around Europe. Anyway, as far as I could work out, people were still drinking <laugh>. Uh, they weren't sitting at home feeling depressed about everything and going, oh my God, I'm living in a continent, which is mound. So, um, we sort of worked out that there were still a lot of people in Europe who were drinking and drinking responsibly, I'm glad to say. And, uh, so we had a, a great period. I was there for five years. By the time I left, I mean the market probably got too big.
Speaker 3 00:11:41 We were 60 markets operating as one market a couple of years after I left. They rightly broke it back down into five cuz it probably got a little bit too big. But it was a lot of fun. We grew the business. We had a lovely beer business in GB and Ireland and some other places, which is great in terms of me really being able to get my arms around Guinness, which was a lot of fun and a, and a, you know, a good spirits business as well. So that was, that was a lot of fun. Really enjoyed that and it was an interesting and good leadership challenge. And then, um, you know, so I was pretty happy, uh, moved back to London for the first time in many years, but then I got, uh, a tap on the shoulder and got moved over here. So I'm now in New York and for the last four years I've been the chief marketing innovation officer for North America, which has been, uh, been great. Uh, really enjoyed it. Love living here. I'm not on a beach, I'm not by the water, but I am by the park, which is nice. And uh, you know, the business is doing well, which I'm glad to say. So it's been a, it's been a good ride
Speaker 2 00:12:31 And, and it's incredible to see that support from Diagio to, to grow your career in, in such a sort of phenomenal way. But, but also what comes across really strongly is your willingness to, to to sort of move to different territories and, and just sort of give it a go to in order to, to sort of prog progress and help the the company as well.
Speaker 3 00:12:52 Yeah, no, it's, it's true. I mean it's, um, yeah, I've definitely been, been flexible and sometimes, you know, it puts you, it, it can cause issues personally and it, it can be tricky and, you know, so it's not always been smooth sailing, but norm, normally I go into sort of two weeks of sort of personal crisis of oh my <laugh>, oh no, here I go again, am I gonna do this? I learned when I moved to Australia, I think when I moved to Australia, I board all of my friends and family for about two and a half weeks cuz it's like, oh, because actually I had an offer because the brand had been sold at the time Malibu had been sold and I had my hands tied. I couldn't talk to Diagio about roles. So I had somewhere else I could have gone to. I had another very good job offer and Diagio really wanted me to stay.
Speaker 3 00:13:33 And, you know, being offered Australia, which is the other side of the world, was a great offer. And I had a bit of a dilemma, do I stay, do I candidly stay in the uk? I'd move back there with family, friends, relationship there, et cetera, or do I move? And then I remember just waking up one morning, I was like, I cannot miss the opportunity to go and live in Australia. You know, someone's paying me to fly me down there to live in Australia in a fantastic business. I've gotta do it. And I think that was always my attitude. It was like even coming here, I'd always thought living in New York would be amazing. And I thought maybe my time had gone, I should do it when I was like 31. And I didn't do it when I was 31 because I was living somewhere else.
Speaker 3 00:14:07 Great. When I was 31. I was very lucky. But I was a bit like, you know, I've got an opportunity to live in New York for like a few years. That's amazing. So, and similarly when I moved back, you know, moved to Miami, it was like, that's just a great city to live in. So I've been very fortunate. So sometimes yes, it, it's difficult. I think you normally go through a couple of weeks of soul searching, is it the right thing to do what I wanna do? Hopefully you've got people around you who are supportive, uh, and helpful about it, which makes a massive difference. And then I really think on these things, you've gotta follow your gut and you know, it's the right thing. Cause it's not right for everyone. I totally get it. I work with people and they don't want to move as much.
Speaker 3 00:14:40 They find it hard. They've for right understandable reasons, personal reasons, family reasons, it's, it's more difficult. So I think it's just down to individual attitudes. But for me, I've always looked and said, I, I didn't want to have any regrets about, you know, looking back and said, I could have done that. I could have done that. And every time and every place I've been has been an extraordinary experience. So I've been really, really fortunate. And I do think one thing I would say, funny enough, actually, my jokes about living on the beach, I think there's a bit, when you get there, immerse yourself in it because you're gonna work really hard and you've gotta throw yourself into the business and you're gonna work many, many hours. But there is a piece about really make the most of you know, where you are and experience you're gonna have. And I think that's really important. So for me it, it's sort of joking apart. It has been get somewhere great to live, you know, live somewhere great, which is gonna give you amazing memories where friends can come out, family can come out and stay and just have a great time. I think that's so important. It's like you just want to share the experience with people and I think that's really important as well.
Speaker 4 00:15:38 And had you moved around much as a family when you were a child? I mean, did this willingness to just upticks and go, I mean it's quite brave.
Speaker 3 00:15:46 Yeah, I don't, I mean I never really think it's particularly brave, but, um, we, we moved down, my family originally from Manchester, we moved south, so there wasn't a lot of movement. We traveled a bit though. My, my father, he's a lawyer, but he's a fantastic linguist, so spent quite a bit of time with his work in Germany and France and traveling around, so just around Europe. So as a kid traveling holidays. But I think as well, because he was such a good, good linguist and my sister's pretty good as well and we traveled around, I always liked that that ability to be places and immerse yourself in different cultures. And I think I, I learned that and you know, I got sent off to, you know, I, I never did the really the school ski trip. I was always the person who got sent on the language trip to go and learn stuff <laugh>, uh, which at the time felt a little bit more boring. It was like they again, right? You got one choice. You either go on, immerse yourself with a French family for a week and put yourself through that or you can go on a ski trip. And I was always sent on the sort of the educational version, which is why I'm really bad at skiing now
Speaker 4 00:16:37 <laugh>. But it's probably really helped though with, with all the movement range
Speaker 3 00:16:40 I've done. Yeah, I mean my language is a rusty now, but, um, but it really helped in terms of, uh, of having that experiences. So whilst we didn't travel lots, we immersed ourselves in different cultures, which I think was really interesting and I think I wanted to do that. And actually my family itself, my grandparents traveled a lot, traveled around the world. Um, some of my family lived in different spaces, you know, around the world as well. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, especially on my mother's side, they traveled all around. They'd lived in Russia and India and different places. So there's an interesting background. So I think if I dig into, I think genetically there's some sort of something going back through the family, which had made me want to get out. And I remember seeing pictures growing up of the family in different parts of the world and thinking it was pretty cool. I think one of my, I think it was my great great-grandfather lived in Vladi Voss for a bit and I thought that was pretty cool. Yeah. So all that type of stuff, I think that's really cool. So I think it was all of that was, was interesting. Yeah. That's why I wanted to do it.
Speaker 4 00:17:26 And, and what were you like as a kid? Was there, was there anything when, when you were little, did you have a notion of what you wanted to be when you grew up? I don't,
Speaker 3 00:17:34 I don't really think I had a big, it sort of formed over time. I was, I think initially I was quite a shy kid actually. I was quite a, quite a shy, reserved. But I had a, so my mother reminds me of this. I had a curiosity thing. I think I was quite a curious kid. I used to wander off the whole time <laugh>. So, um, I'd get lost because I sort of would go off and explore. So I think there was a bit about an innate sense of exploration and wanting to go and see things and do stuff. My mother tells me literally stories about where I was like in department stores and I'd wander off and they'd have to find me and they were like making announcements over the speakers to try and find where I was and stuff like that because I just <laugh> leave them behind. So I think that there's a bit about that. I'm pretty independent, so I think, you know, I need people around me, but I think my independence side came through as well. And I think I built a decent amount of resilience as well as a, a kid well,
Speaker 4 00:18:21 Wandering around department stores on your own,
Speaker 3 00:18:23 Right around surviving department stores, three years of age and, and not not really being too bothered because I thought I was okay. Clearly. So <laugh>, you know, so I think there's a bit about, you know, I look, I was very fortunate. I I was a weekly boarder at school from 13 to 18, but that, that toughens you up a little bit in some respects. Very lucky. My parents, it's not that my parents wanted to send me away, they wanted to gimme the right education. So I was very fortunate. I, I really understand that. It's very lucky. But again, I think that sort of all that sort of stuff makes you, builds a bit of resilience in you. And then I think as I formulated what do I want to do, there was almost a process of what I, what didn't want to do, which was, you know, I, I didn't wanna be a lawyer or a doctor or anything like that just wasn't where my leaning was.
Speaker 3 00:19:00 I, I think I was really interested, as I said, in sort of the arts, I was interested in history and language and the world and politics and all that sort. I was really interested in politics and what made the world tick. And then, then as I got into that, I thought I was quite interested in human behaviors and what made that work and stuff like that. And I think that sort of drifted as, as I explored it, as I said, that started to get me into, you know, how can I do that and make some money out of it. And started to realize actually selling stuff was a good way to do that. And the more I learned about it, that's how I sort of got into it. So it sort of built over time. And then the other stuff I really loved was, I was growing up was sport. I loved the world of sport. I played sport. I was average at lots of sports. You know, I was like a jack of all trades, a master of none. Uh, but I really enjoyed that. But I knew I was never going to build a career in it. So, so I sort of ruled that one out.
Speaker 4 00:19:42 And was there anyone in particular that you looked up to?
Speaker 3 00:19:45 I mean, there were lots of people I was growing up, but I think, um, you know, my, my parents who were, you know, big influence on my life and, and my family, I think it's, you know, at, at school there was some sort of, again, some, some good influences, uh, in terms of sort of people who sort of think really understood me and understood what would be best for me. You know, uh, even I went to a smaller school, not a big one, which I think, um, at the time people think that would be suit would suit me as I sort of expanded out and needed that sort of bit of, I think care. So yes, I went through it. There was some, some good people that I think supported me, you know, as I was definitely going through sort of the first years of my, you know, first years of my life. And then as I went into my career, I definitely had some great people who really, really supported and helped me.
Speaker 4 00:20:20 So who, who, who are some of those?
Speaker 3 00:20:22 My first boss was amazing. So I joined, it was a guy called Philip Lewis. And I joined, um, joined Guinness and I remember they, um, they invited us. We were, I was, I was joined as, as I said, I started in the, the Caribbean. So my first job was a graduate trainee in the Central America, Mexico, west Africa and Caribbean region. And I, I got that job because I went through the interview because I'd lived in Mexico as a student. And I remember going through the interview and it, it was a pretty rigorous interview process. It was like first round of all the, you know, interviews and all the psych tests and all that sort of stuff. And then another level of interviews and, you know, you go away for two days and all this sort of stuff. And I, I think I got the job cause I'm sure there were, you know, there, there were lots of smart people clearly who were trying to get jobs there.
Speaker 3 00:21:01 But I think the fact that I'd traveled and I'd lived out there and I'd, I remember the, the mass of the story and I'd got stuck in a hurricane for a few days where I was literally down and out and had to sort of survive. And I think stuff like that got me the job. I'm sure it did. Cuz I was seen as sort of, you know, and obviously I'd lived in that part of the world, spoke the lingo. And so they, they, I went straight into that role and I remember it was, it was interesting. They invited me and, and a guy called Luke who was joining to go and work in, in sort of in, actually ended up in carers. And we got invited for a dinner, a lunch. And they were terribly worried that they, they came across as old school at the end of it.
Speaker 3 00:21:32 And that they were desperately trying to impress us. And it was so you realized, oh wow, they really wanted us to join and we, and we weren't like their new tours, they really wanted us. And so once you had this incredible sense of wanting, you know, bit wanting, you know, of of, of them wanting us and sort of the sense of therefore being a place where you felt quite secure and safe actually going into a first job, which is really amazing actually, the se. And so I, I immediately had a sense of belonging actually when I got into the organization. I wouldn't felt like I was under huge pressure. And then I think the, the, the next, the next big thing was sort of Philip did, which was amazing, was just he, I just knew he had this amazing sense of belief and confidence in you, which just made you feel good.
Speaker 3 00:22:10 And I think it was very interesting as well. Cause I reported into someone who was pretty senior because I was their, pretty much their first graduate trainee in a way. They didn't quite know what to do with me, but therefore I reported into someone really senior, so I didn't have lots of time with them, but the time I did have was really invaluable because I just learned a lot. But then what he did was he'd give you pearl of wisdom and then just send you off to do, to do stuff and make stuff happen. So it forced you to sort of basically rely on your initiative, your ability to go and make things happen, your creativity, all of that sort of stuff. And candidly, or now it's your common sense versus sort of being almost told what to do, which can happen a little bit.
Speaker 3 00:22:45 And I, and I really also believe there is something interesting when you start a business is, you know, how you get that first reporting line or how you get the reporting into the level of the contact into people with sufficient sort of experience, coaching, ability, seniority. So you really learn. And, uh, there was a brilliant, I'm gonna give you a brilliant example. And I, I still remember this partly because I'd lived in Mexico, but we were looking to buy our distributor in Mexico. And, um, we had a, a basic, there was one distributor, there were three businesses within this distributor. And at the time when we were looking to basically buy more, have more in-market businesses, and essentially by doing that, you had more control C through profit, all that good stuff. And so Phillips said to me, look, I've been working for seven months at this stage, and I'd had loads of training and I was like being on an mba and I'd had all sorts of, you know, from finance training, sales, training, you name it. So I was, you know, I was doing some, there was amazing training program I was on, and he said, I want you to go to Mexico for a month and find out what's going on. And that <laugh>
Speaker 5 00:23:38 Okay, <laugh>
Speaker 3 00:23:40 Got on the plane, went and I met the CEO of our Mexican business. He must have thought, thought, who's this like 23 year old kid or 22, whatever I was, you know, and I met him and I sort of asked him questions and found out and found about the business. And then I literally had a tour of Mexico for the next three and a half weeks going around talking to wholesalers and businesses and just getting out and finding out and spending time with the sales force and just doing it. And then I remember sitting in a hotel in, I remember sitting the, the Holiday Inn in Guadalajara writing my report up about what, you know, <laugh> what I'd found out and my report in anyway, so I wrote my report up, which was I thought we should definitely buy the business in Mexico. Uh, it was clearly a big opportunity.
Speaker 3 00:24:16 We were, underpenetrated had a huge opportunity, but I didn't think we needed three businesses. We needed like a mainstream business and a luxury business, and that's what we should do. So I went back and handed my report in anyway, we bought the business and actually, ironically, we ended up with exactly that, uh, mainstream business and the luxury business. And it, look, it wasn't that, it was pretty rocket. It wasn't rocket science to work that out, uh, as to what we needed to do. But what I loved about was just like, go off and do it. You know, go and do it and come back. And it was that sense of belief in me. And he was always like, you're gonna do really well. You know, and, and I say gave this real sense of security. I mean, I, I, like, I always have this sense of, part of me still is I'm, I'm, I'm restless and I always have this, if I don't deliver, you know, I, I have a huge sense of I've gotta deliver, deliver, deliver, you know?
Speaker 3 00:24:54 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So that's still innate in me as I, as I am as a human being. But I do think if you create the right, if you are, what you need to be is people who believe in you and push you. And I think that's really important. You know, the sense of belief gives you that sense of I'm good, the sense of being pushed as well, which is if you believe in people, you've gotta push 'em and you've gotta make 'em better and better and better. And you look at great coaches in business, in sport, in arts, stuff like that, whatever it is, they believe in people, but they pushed them and pushed them. And I think I had that, uh, my best bosses had another, I've had many great bosses. I've been really, really fortunate. You know, I've got a great boss at the moment.
Speaker 3 00:25:27 You know, I remember when I was in Latin America, I had a great boss who was hugely a very warm human being, lovely human being. I had some amazing coaches at the time as well. They were, he really believed in me, but he, but consequently really pushed me because it was about how do you make the most of what you are as a human being and how do you make the most of what you are as a leader? And it's like, and there is that piece about really making the most of who you are and that sense of, you know, trying to do the best for, for you and then for others around you for the business and dare say the, the impact that we all can have in our own different levels of way on the world as well. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I think it's really important. So look, I've been super lucky. I've had some amazing bosses over the years, so I've been very fortunate and I've learned a lot from them and I've had some great coaching as well.
Speaker 2 00:26:07 And that's a lovely sort of segue to, to leadership itself. Just to sort of talk about your own leadership. How would you describe your leadership style and, and also do you think it's changed over the last couple of years given what we've all been through?
Speaker 3 00:26:21 Yeah, I think my, I think I think over the pandemic, it's probably, well the pandemic did for many businesses was accelerate things. I mean, our business has accelerated hugely, you know, we've put on a, a lot over the last, you know, we've grown our net sales value by like 44% over the last 200 a bit years. So it's, it's, it's a lot in a business which was, you know, pretty a stable business beforehand. So we've really seen the business accelerate. And I think, I think actually in a funny way, people's leadership is accelerated. I think what it's done is you dig into almost the core of who you are as a leader. Yes. And it's almost put some of those leadership things and put them a little bit on steroids in some respects. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So if I think about me as a leader, if I say what, what am I, what am I about?
Speaker 3 00:26:58 What's at my core? I'm a big part about possibility, about creating possibilities, about opportunities. So that's really is, I mean I, you know, my purpose in many respects is about creating possibilities, you know, and with great people, it's about doing extraordinary stuff with extraordinary people. That's why I love to work with great people to deliver amazing things which make a difference. That's what what motivates me, you know? And my core is about, I get excited about possibilities and new possibilities. And that's not about just new, new, new. It could be taking core businesses and building and building them, making, you know, we, we run brands which are one year old and some are 400 years old. And that, that's, I love that and how you build it, but it's always about the how you build for the next and for the future. So a lot about possibility.
Speaker 3 00:27:37 I think I'm a pretty collaborative leader. I do believe in, you know, collaboration and working collaborative across teams. I believe in, I'm not a micromanager. And I think I let through that. I think we worked very closely as a team. So I worked very much through my leadership team. We connected more than ever. And I think that's what happened in Covid as well. Strangely, the world of Zoom and being physically apart in many respects. But a lot of businesses came together more because you had to. So I think that element of coming together regularly to discuss what you needed to do. So I think what it also dialed up was that that importance of leadership and, and, and leadership teams to be very clear of kind of almost what their, their vision is, what their goal is, what the agenda is. So, and then step back and let people get off and deliver what they need to deliver, I think is really important.
Speaker 3 00:28:19 I think there was a piece as well, which was good in, in Covid on the pandemic, which was also as leader, giving yourself time and with other great people to think a little bit. So there's no doubt that we accelerated and we worked at huge pace and, you know, sounds a bit cliched, we pivoted, we were agile. All the stuff most businesses said, we really did. We moved, I think, quicker than most people in our industry. I mean, literally within, you know, a few days of the pandemic and lockdown. We were, we changed everything we did. It was, you know, March, 2020, you know, for everything we did around St. Pat's 17th of, you know, March, we changed and made very different. And we were one the first out the gate in our industry to, to look and feel different and to be doing, you know, activity, communication, creative activity, which felt relevant for the time.
Speaker 3 00:29:02 So we moved really quickly, but we also did some thinking. We didn't sort of, it wasn't that knee jerk, you know, run, run, run, run. Yeah. Sort of blindly. I think you also need to give people direction in terms of crisis. Uh, uh, and the other thing, interestingly, actually, if I take a little bit of a step back as well, having worked in Latin America, and this is not, I don't wanna get into any sweeping generalization about Latin America, I love, but, you know, one thing I learned for my boss Randy at the time was, you know, Latin America's clearly had a volatile history, you know, love it. And had gone through a lot of crisis. And I'd worked in places where can lead some of the markets where there was, there were difficulties and there were crises happening. And you know, it's, I, Venezuela was an amazing place and, but it's been through some difficult times, you know, and people, people have different, different views on that.
Speaker 3 00:29:43 But the ability therefore when you've worked in economies like that, to be able to pivot and change and see stuff and always be positive. Yeah. And always think about what next, how do you deal with the situation you've got and look forward in a way which is positive and look for those positives, you know? And, and if you take, you know, because there always are positives, you can dig yourself into doom and gloom. Uh, so what is it you look to, to drive and, and, and lead that agenda in the business as well, I think is is really important. So I think cuz I'd had experience of working in countries where there'd been more economic and political volatility, which had, uh, meant you have to be flexible, you have to move quickly, you have to adapt. Ha had really helped me actually a little bit as we went into Covid.
Speaker 3 00:30:22 Then the piece I said about thinking is really important. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you do need nonetheless to make sure you are thinking out and you are clear about when you are moving and changing your strategy and your approach that it's thought through. So we got some very clear principles about how we were gonna operate, which is essentially about, you know, we still needed to create desire for our brands. We need to make it very easy for people to buy our brands. So we switched a lot of work into, you know, clearly e-commerce, digital, how we drove that. All of our spend went to drive, people were at home. How do we facilitate people having great drinking experiences at home responsibly And then, and then good basically. And what we were doing around really helping people and helping communities at a time where communities desperately needed it. So setting a framework out again, I think is, was really important.
Speaker 3 00:31:03 So I think, I think the ability is, yeah, for me, creating possibilities was at my core mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So the ability to be there and create possibilities and look from a positive lens of, in our case, in our industry, people were still drinking. People still wanted to have a drink, you know, they wanted to enjoy themselves hopefully responsibly, which is what we want. They were just doing it differently. They was stuck at home. Yeah. So how do we do that and make sure they were drinking our brands responsibly on those occasions when they wanted to do it. That was the, that was the difference. And how do you make sure that you did that and you got there and, and candidly did that ahead of the competition. That's what, that was what was so critical. How do you create a framework that you're doing that to drive the business? And then what are you doing conscious of the world to do good and help communities? And I'm really proud of so much of the work we did over that time in terms of helping communities, you know, from what we did to help the bartender community as all bars shut down was an obvious one to just different communities in general, uh, as we went through the, those that that period Yeah. Uh, uh, through our brands and, and as a corporation in general, basically.
Speaker 2 00:31:58 Yeah. And as you said, there was sort of like perhaps some inbuilt crisis management, uh, skills, but but also the resilience from, from what you said as, you know, as a, as a young boy growing up that that I think, you know, leaders need that, that resilience as well.
Speaker 3 00:32:13 Yeah, I think so. I think, I mean, definitely I think, I think I'm, because I've put myself into situations where I've, you know, got gotta move, learn, I'm, I'm, you know, getting to the next situation, you know, I mean, when I was 18, I went to live in the school in Spain and essentially it was a bool, it had a perimeter wall. Wow. I thought I was going to some sort of really nice, you know, <laugh> like it extraordinary. And I was a teacher, most of the kids there were like three years older than me and I was like this, you know, fresh paced young kid. And I was like, you really have to dig deep inside and go right, how am I gonna make this work? You know, I can't, I can't quit. And I think, so I think there is a natural resilience in me.
Speaker 3 00:32:45 And then I think yeah, that sometimes people thrive on a bit of a crisis. Yeah. You know, it can be energizing. There was something about that, look, it was a terrible period for the world, but I think actually you've got to, you've gotta look at it and go, how do I make the best of this? Uh, that's, you've just gotta have that. And I, and I do come back and I think you do need businesses, people who are framing the opportunity and the possibility. I think it's really important. There'll be other people who will be doing a lot of the pragmatic leadership stuff, which is really important and stuff like that. But, you know, and my, my core really is about creating those possibilities. And that that's really, I think it really came out during Covid.
Speaker 2 00:33:14 Yeah. I mean it's something that, that the social element that we really noticed that it was all about having a very clear strategy and nothing else mattered. And actually in that time, kind of having the energy to come back and say, what is our core of our agency? You know, and it's all about, you know, caring about our people and our clients. And actually it's remarkably simple, but you kind of need that clarity of thought while, while everything else is going a little bit crazy around you,
Speaker 3 00:33:40 No, you really don't. Really, you, I mean I, I know at a global level I've, in our CEO who's, who's fantastic, I mean he talked about, you know, one Yeah. Caring for our people. And then the big mantra globally was Emerge stronger. Mm-hmm. Which is just very simple. How do we get outta this stronger as an organization? And then, uh, and then, you know, I think what we did here and what I tried to do here was put that framework in place for how we managed our brands and built our brands and what we did. And I think, yeah, you're right. If you've got that, people get it, don't you? It's simple, isn't it? Simple language around that. Yeah. And then people need to hear that it's reassuring from leaders. And when they've got that, then again, back to what I said earlier, that gives people a sense of, a certain sense of security.
Speaker 3 00:34:14 You know, it's never gonna feel a hundred cents secure, but if you can give people that a little bit of sense of security in difficult times, you know, look, people are still gonna have to deal with ambiguity and big leaders. The other piece is, you know, that ability to navigate and manage through ambiguity is so key. And I think I've always been able to do that. I've always been able to sort of live in the gray for a bit, manage chaos. I think, you know, I'm a fairly good at understanding chaos theory about, you know, it will get to order. Yeah. I also understand that other people don't deal with it and manage it as well as others. And I think knowing that as well is quite, is quite important. So how you navigate and look at your teams and other people about how they are in times of difficulty. Cuz people will, I think there's other big people, people do react differently and, and for some people it's harder than others and you need to recognize that as well.
Speaker 2 00:34:53 Yeah, absolutely. What are you most proud of? Uh, either in or outside of work
Speaker 3 00:35:01 Around thinking, oh, I'm really proud of Liz stuff. I think so when I reflect on what I'm proud of, I suppose I, yeah, I'm proud that I've, I've taken maybe what might be seen to be bold moves and moved around and taken chance and, and pushed myself. I think I always think I can do more. Could have done more, you know, as all of that. I could have probably could. I lived in more places? I don't know, maybe can I still, yes, I think I always try and push myself and I think if I'm, if I reflect, I think I'm pr I'm proud of that. And then I, hopefully I'm proud that I've been, you know, you know, a good friend to people, you know, you know, and all that good, good, you know, part of my family and all that sort of stuff. So, and I'm, I'm proud, proud that hopefully I've been part of, in, in business, you know, being part of a, a journey over the last 20 odd years in Diagio where, you know, we've really been building this organization and, you know, it's been amazing to be part of part of it.
Speaker 3 00:35:48 And, you know, I get a lot of, it's funny, I'm, I'm interviewing for some roles at the moment and obviously we want to develop our own talent. We do, we build our talent, we're gonna build 'em through, but obviously we, as we grow, we need to bring people in. And I get a lot of, wow, you've been there such a long time. That's amazing. <laugh> sometimes, oh gosh, I'm like the old geek. I'm the old guy, you know, <laugh> and, uh, I must thought they're really boring, but, you know, but you know, then I haven't taken risks and moved. But, well I've moved a lot and I've, you know, and we've changed a lot as an organization. I'm really proud to have been part of that journey cuz it's been, it's been an amazing journey. Uh, so that's that, that I'm, that's what I'm pretty proud of. I think
Speaker 2 00:36:22 That's a great answer.
Speaker 4 00:36:24 So I think it's time to move on to the bit of the podcast where we get a bit more personal, if that's all right. So let's just start with an easy one. What's your idea of a perfect weekend and do you have any guilty pleasures?
Speaker 3 00:36:35 Perfect. We can, would be in lovely location. I've talked about the beach could be down, but I'm not actually a big sit, sit on the beach, but I love being down by the water. So walking on the beach is great. Going for a swim is great. Lying on a beach for six hours, not my idea of a good time. Bit too, um, bit too fast skinned for that. But, um, going for lovely long, long walks or hiking as I'd say here, you know, going for a really good walk out in the country, wherever it might be. Love doing that. Watching Manchester City play and win, which I'm glad to say they do more of now than they did when I was a kid. <laugh>, but I'm back to my roots. I said, we're all from Manchester. So I grew up in a family, which is a huge city fan family.
Speaker 3 00:37:11 So, uh, either be either going to a game there and if I did, then that'd be a nice weekend. Or watching them watch a lot. Saturday mornings. I love here Saturday mornings getting up, living in America and having the football slash soccer on, depending on what you call it, <laugh>. It's just brilliant having it on the background. So I love that. That's, that's a great part of the weekend when they win, it makes a big difference. And then going out, family and friends, you know, I enjoy eating in and having a great, uh, and I love going out. Uh, you know, I love going out to great bars and restaurants, eating good food, having great drinks and cocktails. Part of the nature of my bus, my, my business and doing that. So I'd say, you know, beautiful locations, you know, going for great long walks, keeping myself fit by doing that. And if I can squeeze in watching a bit of soccer, football, stuff like that, that's it. That'd be a perfect weekend with great people.
Speaker 2 00:37:51 Fantastic. I I think we are very aligned on the, uh, the, the food elements as well. Uh, what's the bravest thing you've ever done?
Speaker 3 00:37:59 Oh, I, um, I'm a bit scared of height, so I've never done jumped out of airplanes, done stuff like that, you know, quite right too. I was thinking I've never, you know, if I put myself in difficult situations, I mean, I've traveled, I've traveled around a war zone in a, you know, uh, in, you know, on a bus <laugh>, stuff like that. Done some, but that might be just stupid, uh, when I was traveling as a sort a
Speaker 4 00:38:20 Fine, like
Speaker 3 00:38:21 <laugh>. Yeah, exactly. So seems stupid and brave. So I've done a little bit of that, uh, in my sort of early traveling days. So where you just don't really care. And then I think, I think just general. So I don't think I've been particularly brave putting myself out there. I think, I think is just putting myself out there and making sure is, I think where I've been at my mo at my bravest, you know, I think there's more brave stuff I could do. I try and take risks in, in my personal life as well. I try and push myself as well in terms of what I can do a little bit. But I, I think I could do more. But you know, I suppose maybe moving around and sometimes pushing myself outta my comfort zone and taking, making decisions. I mean, I'll give you an example actually.
Speaker 3 00:38:55 When I, having lived in Spain, uh, as an 18 year old for a year, I had a place at Sa Manka University, which is a fantastic university. You know, one of the great universities in Spain. Mm-hmm. It would've been great, would've been great in my cv. And I turned around to my professor at university and I said, um, in England, I said, I don't wanna go there. It's like, I think I didn't say it was boring. I said, I wanna go to Latin America. It's much more exciting. <laugh>. It's like, I've lived in Spain, I've done that, you know, I was like 20. I was like, I clearly hadn't done Spain. I've lived in like, you know, and Lucia, I hadn't done Spain, but I was like, I wanna go to Latin America. It just sounds more exciting and it's a bit more, you know, adventurous.
Speaker 3 00:39:28 And he said, fine if you wanna do that. But he said, you're on your own. He said, I've got your own place and the best university, one of the best universities in Spain. He said, right, you go and do your own thing. So I just went out and literally got myself a place in the university over in Latin America. Did that, found myself some work, did other stuff, got myself on a plane. I went over there and then traveled around places where wars were going on and stuff like that. So I suppose that was a good example of just ignoring good advice, <laugh>
Speaker 4 00:39:51 Stuff,
Speaker 3 00:39:52 My mind path and mm-hmm. <affirmative> being, whether it's brave, stupid, I don't know, a bold, but it was amazing. And I had gotten an amazing experience and I think had I not done that, as I said earlier, I wouldn't have been and had the career I've
Speaker 4 00:40:02 Had. Yeah. It seems to have worked out.
Speaker 3 00:40:04 It's worked out okay. Yeah. So that's probably, probably where I've been brave.
Speaker 4 00:40:08 <laugh>. And how do you think you'd fair in a zombie apocalypse? I
Speaker 3 00:40:12 Think I'll be, oh, I think I'll be all right. I mean, uh, I think there's something, I saw some sta stats on this. Only about 10% of people surviving a zombie apocalypse or something like that. I dunno where I, I saw that once. I dunno where I saw that might be
Speaker 4 00:40:23 <laugh>. It's probably a fact. I dunno
Speaker 3 00:40:25 Not been the zombie. I think that's comes from data from movies.
Speaker 4 00:40:28 <laugh>
Speaker 3 00:40:29 Not really been one. I think I'd like to think I'd do okay. I'd be on the few survivors. I think you've gotta think that. Yeah. Otherwise you're just giving up. So I think somehow I would find my way to survive by a hooker, by crook. I'd be one of those people who'd be sort of, you know, uh, so yeah, I think I'd find my way to survive. I think I've got survivors instinct in me, so that's how I'd
Speaker 4 00:40:50 Be. Brilliant. Thank you. And what the
Speaker 3 00:40:52 Other alternative, you know,
Speaker 4 00:40:53 Likely Yeah. <laugh>. How would your friends describe you?
Speaker 3 00:40:57 I think they describe me as, uh, hopefully a good friend, hopefully supportive friend there when people need me. I, I'm not the mis, I'm not the person who's constantly connecting with people and doing that. I can't, you know, just can't do that. Too busy stuff on. But, you know, when we spend time together, it's valuable time. Hopefully. Good fun. You know, I've, I've probably got, I I, I've got lots of really great friends, but I have quite a few very deep friendships. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I, I said know lots of people and I think my friends would disguise me as, you know, always energetic, you know, trying to look for stuff, you know, doing stuff. There's, I mean, I've got a good sense of, I get this at work, good sense of energy about me as well, which I think hopefully I bring to bring to the party as well. So, you know, and yeah, hopefully, you know, I love banter. I love both my friends. A good sense of banter and fun and, you know, all of that sort of riffing off people. That's what I love doing. It's great.
Speaker 2 00:41:43 Perfect. And do you have a karaoke go-to song?
Speaker 3 00:41:46 This is a hard one. One, I really try not to do karaoke very often because I, um, I, and I know you, I just shout, I really have a terrible voice. But when I have done it, it's fine. Cuz clearly you're in a bar and whatever, it doesn't really matter. I got kicked outta the school choir. Oh. After 10 minutes it was, I've had a couple of chasing experiences, which again I've come out of. But I was put in a school choir when I was 11 and literally there were about 25 of us in this thing. I dunno how I got in in the first place, I think. Cause I was learning the piano and they put me in because I was doing, you know, and I was literally hauled out. They literally pretty much hooked me out of the school choir. <laugh>. I said, you can't sing and was sent off.
Speaker 3 00:42:23 It was, uh, I mean, you know, again, back to resilience. I, I had to dig deep Yeah. And realize that it's clearly wasn't gonna be my career, but if I did it, I'd say best karaoke song. I, I mean my quick one journey of my life in sort of music I started when I was very young. Bands like The Damned I Loved, I saw 'em in New York a few weeks ago. Fantastic. They're amazing. Still the really amazing, got into and through my elder cousin who was, you know, great guy. If you give something like Oasis, they're great. Um, you know, my Manchester roots and stuff. But some like, stay young is amazing, you know, it's, you know, stay young and be invincible. Stuff like that, you know, stuff like that. The lyrics are great, would be an amazing, great karaoke song. So something like that would be good, I
Speaker 2 00:43:01 Think. Yeah. You can pull, pull off a, like a nice indie song as well, so Yeah.
Speaker 3 00:43:05 Yeah, exactly. Something like that. Yeah, <laugh>. Yeah, exactly. Some good, good in, I like good indie music basically. So I think you'd be in that, that space.
Speaker 2 00:43:10 Fantastic. Ed, it's been an absolute pleasure to have you on, on the podcast. Thank you so much for being a part of this. And before we go, I, I want to sort of ask if there's anything that we haven't asked you that you would like to talk about or I can let you have the, uh, the closing thoughts.
Speaker 3 00:43:28 No, thanks tomorrow, Wendy, I really appreciate. No, I've really enjoyed it. No, thanks. Hopefully I think you got a flavor of my life, my journey actually, we didn't talk a lot about brands and marketing really. We talked a bit about principles, but you know, I, I think I talked about what I, what I love doing is I love building brands and I love understanding people and humans and where they're at and how you get people to buy the brands and make people fall in love with brands. And I love doing that. And that's been a big part of my, my career as well. I think that I've been motivated and enjoy building brands and that's been a big, big part of it. But nothing otherwise you've got a pretty good flavor. I think so. Uh, it's been nice. I've really enjoyed it. Thank you. It's been lovely to reflect a little bit and <laugh> reflect on my journey. So thank you very much.
Speaker 1 00:44:08 You've been listening to Genuine Humans brought to you by the social element. If you loved what you heard, remember to subscribe or you can find out more at www dot the social element agency.