Neil is a graduate of DCU, and is currently the Jameson International Brand Ambassador for Australia, having formerly been based in Poland. Read his amazing story here!
Tell me about yourself (where you went to college, what course you studied, how long you’ve been on the programme).
I spent 4 years studying Business and finance in DCU. Throughout this course I was required to complete an internship. Bizarrely, I chose to work as a trainee accountant for almost a year. This experience taught me a lot about myself. Although I have huge respect for my peers who’ve gone on to achieve a lot in the finance world, I knew it wasn’t for me. I went on to complete a masters in E-Commerce in DCU and secured a place on the programme in 2016 – I’m now in my second year.
When did you decide that you wanted to take part in the Jameson Graduate Programme?
I first heard about the Graduate programme while working at the Jameson Distillery Bow Street and set about building my experience to secure a role with Jameson internationally. I completed a masters degree and worked on my digital marketing, event management and bartending skills in order to be attractive as a candidate. The opportunity to develop my marketing skills and build a strong network internationally was something I was very keen to achieve.
What market were/are you in?
I spent my first year in Warsaw, Poland. I’m now based in Sydney covering the entire Australian market.
Was there ever a language barrier while on the programme?
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?
The people you meet. I’ve made lifelong friends in Poland and Australia since joining team Jameson. These friends now make up my network in Europe and Australia and working with them on projects has been very rewarding. Gaining international marketing experience in two different continents will also stand to me going forward with my career. The Jameson brand draws in amazing people due to its own values and ideas. Regardless of what market you end up in, you’re guaranteed to meet incredible people and build a strong network.
How did the Jameson Graduate Programme help you in developing your own personal brand?
I’ve been lucky to have a manager that gives me the freedom to take on big projects while still providing me with the support I need to make them a success. You’ll become the face of the brand providing you with recognisability that will help open doors for you. Picking up transferable skills in social media, traditional marketing, public speaking and budget management also lend to your personal brand.
What was your most difficult obstacle to resolve while on the Jameson Graduate Programme?
Finding my feet in a country where I didn’t know anybody or the language was challenging. It was equally as challenging to leave Poland a year later as I’d fallen in love with country but I knew it was time to move on. There’s lots of different facets to the graduate programme, you’ll be expected to support the brand team in the office and do the traditional ambassador work. Getting the balance right and learning how to prioritise can be challenging initially but once you’ve got it down you’ll reap the rewards.
How have you developed through the Jameson Graduate Programme?
Over my year and a half, I’ve organized large and small-scale activations, supported in the launch of two separate products in two separate markets and set up my life in two countries. These experiences alone have developed me in many ways. I’ve become quite adaptable and understood the value of building a strong network around myself who can support with various initiatives.
What weaknesses did you improve on?
Organisational skills were never my strongest attribute growing up. I knew I was strong in other areas but keeping on top of a variety of projects in a new country where you don’t speak the language can pose problems. While I still have a bit to go, becoming more efficient with my time and prioritising tasks are two areas which I think I’ve improved on massively.
What skills learned from Jameson have been transferable to your current position?
I spent a lot of time out in the field in Poland supporting our sales teams. This year I’ve picked up more expertise in brand management and understanding the inner workings of a brand. Working with external agencies in areas such as advertising, experiential and PR has also been an insightful experience.
What is your favourite memory from your time on the programme?
It’d be impossible to name one. I’ve been lucky enough to meet great people in and outside of Pernod Ricard since joining the company. My best memories have been when working or having a drink with those people at various Jameson events in both Poland and Australia. The excitement of moving to a new country and starting fresh is also a difficult feeling to replicate. Having had the opportunity to do this twice I can safely say it’s been a stand out memory for me.
Any tips for anyone applying or future brand ambassadors?
Bring lots of energy to the table! The opportunity to grow and develop both personally and professionally is massive. My advice would be to not take that opportunity for granted and to put yourself outside of your comfort zone as much as possible. In terms of the application, have a look at the skills needed to be a strong candidate and develop them on your own time. In the interview process try to stay calm and collected. The assessors want to see you do well at the end of the day so try to limit the nerves and enjoy it.