Kate is a graduate of UCD, and is in her second year of the Jameson International Graduate Programme. She is the Brand Ambassador for Toronto, having spent her first year in the Dublin Head Office. We caught up with her to see how Canadian life was treating her!
Tell me about yourself (where you went to college, what course you studied, how long you’ve been on the programme).
My name is Kate Hanrahan. I’m from Dublin and I am on my second year of the Jameson Graduate Programme. Before joining this programme I studied Commerce International in UCD, where I specialised in marketing and minored in French.
When did you decide that you wanted to take part in the Jameson Graduate Programme?
A lot of my friends in college were applying for accounting firms, but I knew that path wasn’t for me. I first realised I wanted to join the Jameson Graduate programme when I approached their stand at the gradireland fair in the RDS. I had always followed Jameson Graduate programme on Instagram where they show the ‘day in the life of’ series, giving an insight into the typical day of graduates all over the world. This got me really excited and determined to get my application in. I remember one of the previous ambassadors that was manning the stand told me that ‘all you have to do is be yourself and show your personality’ – I remember thinking he was crazy! But once I met all the other ambassadors I realised that this is what Jameson is looking for and I knew I had to be part of the ambassador family.
What market were/are you in?
On my first year of the programme I was based in Head Office in Dublin working on the innovation team. This was more of an office based role where I had the opportunity to work on all the top secret projects for Jameson. This year I am the Jameson Brand Ambassador in Toronto, Canada, spreading love for Jameson on the field.
What was/is the most rewarding thing about the Jameson Graduate Programme?
This role comes with so many rewards. The main reward for me is getting positive feedback from consumers. It is such a great feeling to see the event that you have organised come to life. As well as this the opportunity to convert consumers to the Jameson way of life from an education session or tasting or even an informal conversation. Building relationships is a key element of this job and once you have a strong network the rewards and opportunities are endless!
How did the Jameson Graduate Programme help you in developing your own personal brand?
As a Jameson Brand Ambassador meeting new people and constantly being in a social environment is a huge part of the role. This has enabled me to develop my communication skills and interpersonal personals. I have met so many inspiring influencers and artists along the way who show tremendous passion for their professions. Having the opportunity to network with such well known influencers on the Toronto scene has enabled me to build increased confidence in my skills and abilities.
What was your most difficult obstacle to resolve while on the Jameson Graduate Programme?
For me, coming from a 9-5 office job straight into a field based job was definitely a challenge. You are the face of the brand in your market so you have a lot of responsibility to make sure you stand out and push your brand in such a competitive landscape. I wanted to build up a good reputation so I hit the ground running. I started to build up a solid network of both influencers and bartenders and set about organising events – no day is the same with this role and I love the excitement that each day brings!
How have you developed through the Jameson Graduate Programme?
Since joining this programme it has been a huge learning curve. I have had the opportunity to work on high profile launch activations, media events and influencer programmes. It is not often a graduate straight out of college can say that! From learning about brand strategy to conducting education sessions to large crowds, no day is ever the same. Through both the challenges and rewards this programme has really helped me grow as a person both personally and professionally.
What weaknesses did you improve on?
I have definitely improved on my presentations skills. Before joining the programme my heart would always be pounding before doing a presentation or speech. Thanks to this role, I am presenting in front of people every day – whether it is education sessions, interviews, media appearances I can safely say that I will never be phased by public speaking again!
What skills learned from Jameson have been transferable to your current position?
As a brand ambassador you are not told what to do, you are not given a list of tasks that you have to complete. You have to be proactive and look for opportunities that fit the brand. I have learnt how to be hands-on and rather than waiting for things to happen to make them happen. This often requires creativity, a skill which I have also learnt from Jameson. Often you have to work with a tight budget and come up with solutions of how to execute the brand in the most effective and efficient way. These barriers and challenges that I face have taught me to think on my feet and use my creativity to make sure the brand is represented in a unique and memorable way.
What is your favourite memory from your time on the programme?
Where to start! Since joining this programme I have had so many favourite memories – both friendships made, amazing events and travel opportunities.
I would have to say my favourite memory so far was Saint Patrick’s day that has just passed. This year our objective in Toronto is Jameson and Music so we teamed up with a famous Canadian band called Hollerado and we had them performing an acoustic gig on the TTC (our version of the Luas!). It was amazing to see the huge amount of amazing feedback we received from this intimate activation with everyone singing along and recording the performance.
On top of that we incorporated an influencer experience into this activation where we branded out VW vans and brought the band on a tour of the city which we called ‘Toronto City Sessions’ (including stops at barber shops, intimate tastings, Vintage clothing stores and speakeasy restaurants – a true Jameson experience!). It was such an amazing opportunity to be involved in such a cool activation and I am looking forward to making many more memories in Toronto.
Any tips for anyone applying or future brand ambassadors?
Although the 2 minute video may be daunting don’t let it put you off – show off your personality and be yourself! They are looking for people who are personable and embody the Jameson spirit of wit, charm, and charisma. The application process can be tough but the Jameson Graduate Programme really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to work on such an amazing brand in an international market. As cringey as it sounds - Just be yourself and have fun with it!