Tendai O' Connor

Brand Manager for Pan-African Campaigns, UCD Graduate
Brand Manager for Pan-African Campaigns, UCD Graduate

It made a kind of perfect sense to have me – a half Irish, half Mozambican – work as a Jameson Brand Ambassador in Maputo, Mozambique. After an exciting induction to the Jameson International Graduate Programme, I was thrilled to be the first graduate to be placed in that role to represent an iconic Irish brand in my Mozambican home.

In 2016, I graduated from UCD with a degree in Food & Agribusiness Management, having been accepted to the Jameson Graduate Programme that summer. I made my way to Mozambique after induction to take on my role in a new Pernod Ricard affiliate which had been established just 2-years before I arrived. The Jameson brand was new to the market it was my job to introduce it to consumers. It was a steep learning curve, as the team was very small & naturally everyone had to step up to take on responsibilities beyond their roles.

Coming on board at such an early stage in the brands introduction to consumers in Mozambique was great as I saw it as a blank canvas to build on and go after opportunities to make an impact for the brand. I started holding brand education tastings & trainings for influencers, bartenders, media houses, trade partners & bar owners. I also designed branding for Jameson flagship outlets in Maputo. This quickly progressed to planning & executing immersive brand experiences such as our Jameson Connects Mozambique event hosting 2,000 people. Jameson now has double digit growth in sales & holds leadership status in the premium whiskey category in the market. Its amazing to have been part of that success story from the start.

I spent two years as a Brand Ambassador & in my third year transitioned to a hybrid role of Brand Ambassador & Assistant Brand Manager (ABM). While on the programme, I also had the opportunity to work on a number transversal projects that align with my passions, such as our Sustainability & Responsibility (S&R) initiatives. It has been gratifying to work on something as simple yet impactful as partnering up with a local producer of reusable reed straws to replace single use plastic straws.

After the experience leading these types of projects, I applied to be the S&R representatives of the Pernod Ricard Youth Action Council (YAC), a group of 9 under-30s from various departments across the business. I was excited to be selected, and since 2018 I have been on the YAC 3-year mandate alongside 8 other members dotted across the globe, representing the voice of the youth within the business. We work with senior leaders on projects aligned with the business strategy that affect the Pernod Ricard group as a whole.

In my final year on the programme I was fortunate to be nominated to represent Irish Distillers for the 2019 gradireland Awards. I was in complete disbelief when I got shortlisted as one of the finalists alongside graduates from KPMG, Musgraves, Aldi & PWC. I believe it wasn’t just the quality of the work I had achieved in marketing the Jameson brand while on the programme, but also the diverse S&R experience that set my work apart, & ultimately won me the ‘Employee of the Year’ award.

This year, in April 2020, I took on a new role as Brand Manager for Pan-African Campaigns for Jameson, and now also count Chivas, Ballantine’s, Absolut & Martell in my portfolio. Due to the pandemic I have been working remotely from Mozambique, but borders have since opened & I am currently packing my bags to relocate later this month to Johannesburg, South Africa where the Pernod Ricard HQ for South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa is located. I’m beyond excited for this new chapter and confident that the experience & network I have built through the Jameson International Graduate Programme will give me a solid base going forward.