The Voice of Vancouver

Ciara Fitzgerald
Ciara Fitzgerald

Ciara is a Commerce Graduate from University College Dublin. In her first year of the programme, Ciara held the role of Market Activation Assistant for North American and Lead European markets based in Head Office in Simmonscourt, Dublin. Ciara has since taken her career further afield, and is now the Brand Ambassador for Western Canada, based in Vancouver, BC.

When / how did you decide you wanted to be part of the jameson international graduate programme?

I decided in my second year of college that I wanted to be part of the Jameson International Graduate Programme. I met the team at a Careers Fair in UCD. I was about to head off on my semester abroad to Montreal and once I got a taste of international experience, I knew the Jameson Graduate Programme was the one for me. I then spent my final two years of college making sure I understood what was needed to apply for the programme and working towards achieving that. For example, I got my drivers license, took a lot of marketing classes, took part in extra curricular activities to improve my skills that I knew I would need for the programme. Knowing that it was what I really wanted to do spurred me on to achieve as much as I could and to put myself in the best position possible to get a place on the programme.

What market were/are you working in?

I spent my first year on the programme based in the Irish Distillers Head Office in Simmonscourt, Dublin, as part of the International Marketing team. My role was Market Activation Assistant for North America and Lead Europe. In this role I had the chance to work with Brand Ambassadors, Brand Managers and Brand Directors across the world, while also gaining insights into how things work in the heart and home of Jameson. This role taught me a lot about different markets and helped me make the decision of what was the right next step for me.

I am now based in Vancouver, Canada as the Brand Ambassador for Western Canada. I live in Vancouver and spent majority of my time in BC, but I also cover Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Do you speak an international language & do / did you use this as part of your market placement?

I do not speak an international language, so I have been based in English speaking markets for my time on the programme.

What characteristics do you have that help you effectively do your job as brand ambassador?

Living in Poland without speaking a word of the language was challenging at times. Polish is the 3rd hardest language in the world to learn – I made a stab at it, and failed. The language wasn’t hugely important. I developed as a person massively in Poland; resilience, building an effective network, social media management and public speaking skills to name a few.

What was/is the most rewarding thing about the Jameson Graduate Programme?

I think I possess several characteristics that help me do my job effectively, the first one being my people skills. I have always been a people person. I love to meet with and talk to new people and genuinely get excited about meeting someone I can work with as part of my role. This aspect of my personality is the driving force behind my success in the role as it is a role based around people.

I also think that I am quite self-motivated, which is very important in this role. It is really a case of you get out what you put in and having a lot of self-motivation is important because there isn’t always someone standing over you and making sure you’re doing your job. It is important that you have the drive to do it yourself, so my self-motivation has played an important role in me effectively doing my job as a Brand Ambassador.

What is the most rewarding thing about being part of the jameson international graduate programme?

The most rewarding thing for me is watching an idea you have go from just being an idea in your head to it coming to life completely. Owning the entire process of curating your ideas, and at the end of all your hard work being able to stand back and be proud of what you have done. The amount of freedom and autonomy this role gives you allows you to use your creativity to achieve things that I personally wouldn’t have thought possible, especially in a graduate role straight out of college.

what is the most challenging thing about a jameson brand ambassador?

There’s no doubt that it is a very challenging role. In a lot of situations, you don’t have a manager based in your local market. For example, my manager is based in Toronto (4,383 miles away). So, it is important to be self-motivated and to want to continue to push yourself and challenge yourself in the role. It can be challenging to keep that up and there are days when a lot of things go wrong, and you feel like just giving up. But when things work out and you see a successful activation or create a great new partnership, it’s always worth all the hard work.

How has the programme helped you to develop your own personal brand?

While on the programme, I have learned the importance of building a strong network and personal brand. Moving to a new city and having to create a lot of new connections and genuine relationships is challenging, but it is so important to do so in order to succeed, not only in this role but in business today. As a Brand Ambassador, I am in the position to put myself out there and to meet new people and attend a lot of events that maybe I wouldn’t if I wasn’t in the role. I have been able to build a strong brand on social media through creating a personal and professional network in Vancouver.

What skills do you feel you have developed through the jameson international graduate programme?

I have developed countless skills during my time on the programme, some of which I don’t haven’t even realised I have developed yet. However, I can see two areas that I have improved in a lot.

The first being my event management and organisation skills. When I began the programme, I would have said that I was quite organised, however, in this role you could have several events in one week and it is important to be on top of everything for each different event. I have learned to have several things on the go and be able to manage all the details for each event through making checklists and using excel to track ‘To Do’ actions.

Another skill I have developed is public speaking. I had done some presenting in college, so I wasn’t a stranger to public speaking, but what this role has led me to develop is a real confidence in myself. I would now not hesitate to stand up in front of a room full of people and speak, which at one point in my life would have been my worst nightmare.

Outside of the day job what do you do for fun?

Being based in Vancouver, I am blessed to have an array of activities on my doorstep. The closest ski resort is a 30-minute drive from my house, so I love to head up there for a couple of hours whenever I can and get some snowboarding in. We also have great beaches and parks in the city which are great for walking in. I put my headphones in and off I go! I’m also very lucky to have a great group of friends here in Vancouver, so I love to hang out with them, going for dinner or drinks or even just watching a movie at home.

What is your favourite memory from your time on the programme so far?

Without a doubt attending the Global Ambassador Summit (GAS) last year has been my favourite memory. GAS is a 3-day learning event where Jameson Brand Ambassadors from all over the world come to Dublin to learn from each other and from the business. It was a chance to meet all the Brand Ambassadors I hadn’t met before, and to catch up with everyone I had done my induction training with. It’s funny because we all speak regularly but rarely get a chance to meet in person. So, to have those three days of retraining and spending time together is important and something we all look forward to. It’s not only a chance for us to hear from the International marketing team on any updates, but we also get a chance to present to each other on activations we have done, and it’s a great way to learn from each other and see the hard work we’re all putting in. And of course, there is time to catch up and share stories of our time out in market.

Any tips for anyone applying for the role of brand ambassador?

Just absolutely go for it! Put the effort in and spend time working on your application to make sure that you get your personality across. It was challenging trying to balance the application process with college work and a part time job, but it is by far the best decision I have ever made. I love what I do, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It was worth every minute I spent editing my video, doing mock interviews for the Assessment Centres or making my friends listen to my presentation over and over again. Make sure to let your personality shine through and be yourself throughout the process. So, don’t hesitate to apply, and when you do, give it everything you’ve got because you won’t regret it.