From Dublin to China - Róisín Oates

Róisín is a UCD graduate and is currently in her second year of the programme, having spent first year in China as well. China is a big market for Jameson, so we caught up with her to see what BA life in the Far East was like!

Tell me about yourself.

My name is Roisin Oates and I studied Commerce International with Chinese in UCD, graduating in 2016. I’m currently in my second year of the programme, based in Shanghai, China.

When did you decide that you wanted to take part in the Jameson Graduate Programme?

While studying in Shanghai, I went to one of Jameson’s St Patrick’s Day activations, called “Jameson Day Fest”. It was held in an art gallery called M50 and it was the first time I saw Jameson in a different light and really connected with the brand. There were so many cool elements to the event, showcasing Jameson’s brand culture through lifestyle vendor pop-up shops, Jameson infused ice-cream, local artists and DJs. I then spent a lot of time researching the role, in particular Jameson’s presence in China. Little did I know, 2 years down the line I’d be organising our third edition of “Jameson Day Fest” on a rooftop overlooking The Bund in Shanghai!

The Jameson Graduate Programme also do a phenomenal job at showing graduates what it’s like to be “on the job” through social media engagement on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This made me very excited about the role and determined to get the job.

What market were/are you in?

I’m just starting my second year in Shanghai. I chose to stay in China as it’s one of the most diverse and fast-paced markets in the world, with constant new trends popping up. I am learning so much from my team here, and have developed my skill-set a lot through working in both a field and office-based role.

Was there ever a language barrier while on the programme?

I studied Chinese as part of my degree, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it can be a difficult language to master. There are always going to be challenges and obstacles with any language. Chinese is tricky, but I am determined to complete HSK 5 proficiency exam before I leave China. The best way to learn any language is to get out and speak with the locals, so working in a field based job chatting with bartenders has allowed me to progress.

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

For me, it’s rewarding to see how much I’ve grown in one year on the job. I’ve learned from a fantastic group of people and have such great support within Irish Distillers and Pernod Ricard China. An achievement has been building on Bartender Advocacy for Jameson, which is something that is very important when building a brand in a seed market. I find this very rewarding as it is great to see people becoming passionate about Jameson with you as that’s exactly what Jameson is – A passion brand! It’s not just about the whiskey (which is the best part), but it’s also about what Jameson stands for.

How did the Jameson Graduate Programme help you in developing your own personal brand?

The Graduate Programme has helped me to develop my personal brand through allowing us to be ourselves. Being a Jameson Brand Ambassador is not based on how many A’s you got in college, or why you got that one D in Physics in 5th year, it's about your personality and leveraging that through a career. There are very few graduate programmes that allow you to do that. It all goes back to our interview process. Everyone submits a video to showcase their personality, hobbies, work experience and interests. In my opinion, this video platform allows you to get a way better idea of an individual than an online aptitude test. The Graduate Programme also allows us to get a chance to do social media takeovers and show other people what life is like “on the job”. This is great for building your own personal brand and giving people an insight into your life in real-time. Brand Ambassador interviews, guest shifts and master classes are all part of the job too. In China, I have visited different cities spreading the name of Jameson through education events on the brand. This allows me to build my personal brand as you get to meet new people and connect with them on a personal level.

What was your most difficult obstacle to resolve while on the Jameson Graduate Programme?

There are always different challenges and obstacles that will pop up throughout your work experience. For me, the most difficult obstacle to resolve has been a recent event we ran where we collaborated with 13 outlets in a large bar area in Shanghai. It was very difficult to keep everyone happy as we hosted the event in a space outside their bars in a large pit, with each bar facing the middle of the pit. We had a large stage, lighting, pop-up vendors, a cinema screening and many other elements to the event. Very popular local bands and DJs were confirmed to play at the event, however certain bars complained about the positioning of the stage as some bars entrance was facing the back of the stage. In the end, we reached a compromise for them; however, it was not an ideal positioning for us in terms of consumer flow. Our relationship with these bars is so important as they’re in the most popular bar area in Shanghai, so we wanted to ensure we could continue to have their support. My biggest takeaway from the event was that by keeping these bars happy and adhering to each of their requests, they will be happy to work with us again, which is very important for us.

How have you developed through the Jameson Graduate Programme?

The Jameson Graduate Programme has helped me to develop through being so diverse. This job is not the same in any market, nor is it the same every day. It varies so much which has allowed me to develop a diverse set of skills ranging from an office based role to a field based role. The largest activations I have worked on are our March Takeover “Jameson Day Fest”, our “Jameson Bartender Ball” and most recently our music festival “Jameson Jam”. Each event focuses on a different target market, from influencers, to bartenders and finally consumers. It all requires a different way of thinking and a different mechanic to bring it from a plan to reality. I have leveraged these skills I’ve learned from working on these different activations and can now apply these to a role in digital marketing or working on the experiential team for example.

What weaknesses did you improve on?

I’ve certainly improved on being indecisive. This job does not allow for indecisiveness which I’ve learned along the way. You are either “in” or “out”", and people rarely wait around for you to make your mind up. Many events will arise and people will want sponsorship or to collaborate. I’ve learned when to say “yes” and when it’s appropriate to say “no, thanks”. I think once you know the brand very well it gets easier to spot good opportunities and differentiate them from the rest.

What skills learned from Jameson have been transferable to your current position?

My current position is the same as last year, a Brand Ambassador in Shanghai. I’ve learned many skills on the job and every day am learning more and more about myself. This year, there are two new graduates in Shanghai with me so I think that I can assist them in settling into the job and market through skills I’ve learned in the past year. I believe that my communication skills have progressed and I can help them to understand how to deal with bartenders, outlets, agencies and consumers.

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

My favourite memory from working with Jameson has to be our St Patrick’s Day activation “Jameson Day Fest”. We held it on a rooftop location overlooking Shanghai’s iconic skyline along The Bund. To see the outreach we had with over 1,500 consumers turn up, Shanghai’s best DJs on the decks and some cool local artists showcasing their brands was so rewarding. People still talk about how it was their favourite event of the year and how they can’t wait for next year. When you get feedback like that it really makes all the hard work pay off!

GAS is also another great memory of being on the graduate programme. This is our Global Ambassador Summit held every Christmas in the home of Jameson, IDL. It was so great to see old faces and new with everyone sharing their experiences from different markets. It’s a time to come together and celebrate all the hard work we’ve put in throughout our time in market and learn from each other. It’s certainly a highlight of the year and I’m already looking forward to our next GAS!

Any tips for anyone applying or future brand ambassadors?

If you’re interested in the role of a Jameson Brand Ambassador, I would say make sure to just be yourself! It might sound cheesy but it’s true – Jameson hire you for being you. We’re about hiring like-minded, creative people with a positive can-do attitude, which matches our whiskey’s personality of “a serious whiskey that doesn't take itself too seriously”.

I would also advise you to do a bit of research on whisk(e)y trends in different markets and be able to identify which markets are the biggest for the brand and why. For the video application, I would take a look at the Jameson Graduate Programme YouTube account where you can see past successful interview videos. This helped me a lot when I was making my video application. Remember, if you get through to the assessment centres, everyone there really wants it so make sure to think outside the box and stand out, it’s your time to shine!

Check out Róisín's 'Day in the Life' video!