Jasmine is an English, Media and Cultural Studies graduate from IADT. She went from studying in Dublin to working in Spain, where she has enjoyed two years as a Jameson Brand Ambassador, based in Valencia covering the Levante region.
What was your day-to-day like pre covid-19?
Exciting. Each Brand Ambassador (BA) has different schedules in market, mine requires me to spend just 10% of
my working week in the office with the remaining 90% in the field. This gave me huge flexibility to work
from where I pleased (once the WIFI was decent!). I would normally set up in a café or the bar of a client.
I´ve even put in a few hours at the beach waiting for a meeting - it kept things dynamic and interesting!
As a BA one of the big advantages, and challenges, is you control your scheduled (for the most part!). For me, Monday was always my office and admin day: I would plan out the week, what tastings or events I had scheduled, organize whatever stock or Point of Sale (POS) I would need for those, review on-going projects and next steps, list what bars I needed to visit and which areas I wanted to explore in the city for opportunities. That way the rest of the week when I was out and about, I knew where I was going and why. Having a plan is key as a BA! Monday or Tuesday evenings I would visit the bars, as the trade tended to be quieter on those evenings and you can really chat with the bartenders to stay close to what´s happening in the trade and often times get little nuggets of insider info e.g. if there are new bars opening etc. Typically, events would fall on Thursday, Fridays and/or Saturdays. Being responsible for Levante region meant I would travel at least twice a month to work in Alicante or Murcia so some weeks that would be on the agenda. Taking all the above into account, I think it would be fair to include busy with my initial description of my day-to-day!!
How has this changed?
Seeing people face to face was the bread and butter of my work, being in isolation indoors put an abrupt end to that, but I quickly adapted. After events in the real world were cancelled we pivoted our approach and sponsored events that were happening online such as an Instagram quarantine film festival. I proposed and planned a virtual tour on Instagram for World Whiskey Day, collaborating with other BA´s to talk through Irish, Scotch, Bourbon and Japanese whiskey! I easily moved my tastings online and ran weekly Instagram LIVE brand-trainings with the BA in Madrid. Globally the BA family worked together to set up informal and fun chats and challenges between markets and I was delighted to be interviewed by the BA in Bulgaria for the Pernod Ricard Bulgaria team’s internal social initiative. Collaboration has become absolutely central to success, more-so than ever before and effective communication is key right when working from home. I have put a lot of extra time into maintaining relationships I had built with the Trade, constantly checking in and checking up on people via whatsapp or a quick call, simple things like reposting content people create, liking and commenting on their posts, watching and participating in their Instagram LIVES has been fundamental to show that I value the relationship and am invested in their wellbeing and success. I also sent out bottles as gifts to our advocates in the trade and involved them in any and all projects we planned, one example being the hugely successful global project Jameson HOSTS. I organised for five bartenders from Spain to participate, they created videos around a certain theme to educate and inspire the wider bar community globally while we were all at working from home.
How did you find adapting to the new norm of working from home?
Tricky initially because I am a very sociable person, the idea of avoiding human connection and being confined inside was unsettling to put it mildly. Professionally I was wondering what exactly my work would look like without having access to bars, bartenders or clients. Week three and four were tough mentally, the situation was intense here in Spain so worries about friends and co-workers were prominent. But we have a fantastic team here and my manager introduced a daily morning call which kept us focused and moving forward and seeing other faces everyday widened our world a little more than that of our apartment, even if it was only screen! Human beings are highly adaptive, something I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for. Now working from home is second nature and it feels a little weird to think soon we will be back to an office, following new guidelines.
What does your daily routine look like? And what habits are most important to you now?
For me managing my morning is everything. This means I wake up and do things to put myself in the best possible mood so I can have the best possible day. Obviously, this looks different for everyone but for me I listen to a motivational youtube video - usually by Tony Robbins, but anyone will do, I just make sure the first thing I hear is massively positive. Then I make coffee and enjoy it, not reading emails or scrolling Instagram I just sit and drink that delicious coffee. Sometimes if I am feeling more chilled I might stand on my balcony and just breathe in the fresh air, (a big struggle for me in the strict lockdown measures of Spain was missing the outside and nature). If I feel more energetic I put on a “Morning Jams” playlist I made on Spotify, of upbeat songs that immediately lift my mood. Quarantine taught me to take full control of my day right away to ensure I am really bringing good energy and my best self to work. It also taught me that no matter how dire the circumstances I will not attempt to bake! My apartment was a banana bread free zone!
How do you feel you have added value to your team at this time?
I operate with quite high energy and a positive attitude. I love to have a laugh, and this really lifted the mood whenever we´ve felt frustrated or stressed. Logging on to Microsoft Teams and meeting a smiling face who is happy to see you can be enough to switch someone from a low mood to a lighter one. My brain is also an ideas factory, being able to think creatively has been critical, we are in really weird circumstances and we need never-before-imagined solutions and innovative suggestions to meet these new challenges. I am never afraid to share my ideas no matter how wildly optimistic they might be, one of my ideas will spark something in someone else and then we build from there.
What skills do you feel you have developed over the last couple of months?
I have used the time to upskill in the area of Digital Marketing! I am constantly learning in this role, but with work being forced almost entirely online by default I got a front row seat to see how Social Media is manipulated for business. Having daily calls with our comms and content team has afforded me massive insight and learnings about content, when to post, what to post and why a post works or does not. To add to this the team at Irish Distillers have supported us by providing access to the Linkedin Learning platform, where there are endless professional courses on a vast range of topics that I have used to supplement my on-the-job learning.
What is the most challenging thing about being a jameson brand ambassador at the minute?
The lack of certainty within the industry, when bars will fully open, what nightclubs will function like, what sort of events could I host in the future, how they would look. Working for an industry leading brand like Jameson people look to you for insights and guidance but the truth is we are all having to navigate this new normal together. In one sense I think it has brought the brand closer to the Trade, we are more bonded and united in our shared passion for the industry and in ensuring its ultimate recovery and rejuvenation.
What are some work practices / habits that you have adapted during lockdown that you will keep post lockdown?
I live in in an apartment with no balcony or terrace, so I really missed fresh air during lockdown and would often go to the window and stick my head out if I was feeling a bit groggy or like my concentration was slipping and it would instantly centre me and refresh me. I realise now the importance of that oxygenated natural air, if I feel stressed or tired, when I hit that afternoon slump rather than reaching for another coffee my first thought is, get some fresh air. It is a much healthier way to stay focused and fresh during the day and it means come the evening you can wind down easier with less caffeine in your system.
Outside of the day job what do you do to switch off & recharge now?
Walk! Having spent almost 8-weeks under strict quarantine in Spain the joy of going outside to walk wherever I please at whatever time is still so liberating. I don’t think I will ever take it for granted again. Especially if you struggle to “meditate” like myself, walking allows your mind wander and that in itself is a great way to just mentally switch off. Get some decent runners, a deadly playlist and you´re away!
Any tips for graduates on how they can best utilise this time?
Find a mentor, or a few. Someone who is doing what you consider to be your dream job, or living your ideal life, someone successful in their line of work that you aspire to be and learn from them. Only in the last year have I realised the importance of having someone ahead of you that is inspiring and a good example to follow. Reach out to them on LinkedIn, read their book or sign up to their webinar. Whatever it may be drink in their knowledge, learn from their mistakes. There is a lot of pressure on graduates now to be successful, I feel it myself, but a lot of the time we take that pressure entirely on our own shoulders failing to utilize the many hundreds of people who are working the jobs we want to work or living the life we want to live who are happy to advise and guide where they can. Find them, take lessons from them and apply these to your own life and career.