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Saturday 24 February 2018

Inspirational journey

Sibéal Bird has found the experience gained on the Jameson International Graduate Programme invaluable as she settles into her latest role at Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard in Dublin.

There were two main things that Sibéal Bird wanted from her career as a graduate of International Business from Maynooth University in 2012 – to travel and work with well known Irish brands.

When she heard about the Jameson International Graduate Programme through a family friend she felt it ticked these boxes, but the programme has turned out to give her a lot more besides.

The fact that the CEO and chairman of Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard at the time, Anna Malmhake, was female, really appealed to Bird. “It made me think that the sky was the limit in terms of a career with the company,” she says.

“I have been so lucky to have really inspirational women as mentors and leaders throughout my time so far.

“On my first day, Simon Fay, the head of international marketing gave the welcome speech. I found it so fascinating that he too started out as a Jameson graduate and has spent time all over the world since.”

Bird spent her first year of the three-year Jameson International Graduate Programme in Seattle in the US, her second in Toronto in Canada and her final and third rotation in Dublin as part of the international marketing team. She is now market and competitor intelligence assistant with Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard’s strategic planning team, also in Dublin.

“One of the most interesting things about the graduate programme is the different experiences it gave me. It was the first time a brand ambassador had been based full time in Seattle and a big part of the role was about developing relationships with bartenders and the local market team. The fact that it was field based shaped my way of working, which was a huge positive. It was an unbelievable learning experience,” says Bird.

“In Toronto, my work was more office based. One of my biggest achievements there was to organise the Jameson Bartenders Ball, which involved working with a creative agency for three months to bring the concept to life. Back in Dublin I used this learning to hold a training summit for brand ambassadors. It was clear to me I could mould the skills I had learned to any event.”

During her year in Dublin as part of the graduate programme Bird got a flavour of various sides of the business and to see all the elements of brand communications and strategy in action.

In her current role, Bird is focused on market intelligence, looking at the performance of the whole Irish whiskey category in global markets as well as competitor activity and macro trends.

“There were a number of different avenues I could have taken after the graduate programme. I was drawn towards working with and learning from head of strategic planning Louise Ryan, who has been inspirational to me from day one [and is now managing director for the Irish business],” she notes.

“I have always been interested in the strategic thinking behind decisions. You don’t get pigeon-holed within Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard and I feel I really have had a well-rounded and eye opening experience so far.”

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