Graduate programme distills success for Jameson brand ambassadors

The Jameson International Brand Ambassador Programme has been successfully recruiting and nurturing young talent for over 30 years

Sinead D’Arcy (centre), head of the Jameson International Brand Ambassador Programme, with the Jameson Graduates 2023. Picture: Fennell Photography

Formed in 1966 when a merger took place between John Power & Son, John Jameson & Son and Cork Distilleries Company, Irish Distillers has long been a strong alliance which was further strengthened in 1988 when it joined Pernod Ricard, gaining access to unprecedented levels of investment and an extensive global distribution network.

Today, Irish Distillers is one of Ireland’s leading suppliers of spirits and wines, and producer of some of the world’s most well-known and successful Irish whiskeys, including the world’s bestselling and most awarded Irish whiskey, Jameson.

Distilled and matured at the world renowned Midleton Distillery in Co Cork, Jameson is a top three selling international whiskey brand and a top 10 international spirits brand.

These credentials make it a desirable option for graduates and Sinéad D’Arcy, head of the Jameson International Brand Ambassador Programme since 2012, says that her role is to ensure that graduates are given every support and encouragement to help them succeed in their chosen career.

“At Irish Distillers, we have a history of supporting and nurturing young talent,” she said. “My team and I are responsible for the attraction and development of Brand Ambassadors for the Jameson International Brand Ambassador Programme – and this includes the strategic development of the recruitment campaign, as well as the development of our world-class training and development programme which we call ‘Distill Your Own Success’.”

The Jameson International Brand Ambassador Programme was established in 1991 and has been successfully recruiting and training graduates for over 30 years – and today it is regarded as one of Ireland’s leading graduate employers.

“It is a truly unique programme which gives graduates the opportunity to kickstart a career in marketing by becoming a Jameson Brand Ambassador in one of 45 international markets,” said D’Arcy.

“The programme empowers graduates to shape their future by providing them with the tools and opportunity to establish the brand in a new market or accelerate growth in a more established market, while building professional confidence and competence.”

With a decade of experience under her belt, the early careers talent expert says it is important for the roles to be filled with the most compatible candidates – and the deciding factor is more focused on having the right attitude and aptitude, rather than having the best academic credentials.

“At Irish Distillers, our recruitment is focused more on attitude and aptitude, rather than what you studied,” she said. “We want graduates who are committed to getting the job done, but who don’t take themselves too seriously. We call this ‘Serious Character’.

“So, while the Jameson International Brand Ambassador Programme is designed for graduates looking to build a career in marketing, the programme accepts applicants from all disciplines, so a marketing or business background is not essential.

“Today, Brand Ambassadors come from a variety of backgrounds – from law, arts, languages and psychology, to business and marketing – and the programme’s induction programme covers all bases, ensuring that graduates are equipped with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to hit the ground running, post-induction.”

However, there are some key skills that are important for a graduate to have, as the graduate talent acquisition process is competitive.

“Our application process very much focuses on attitude and character,” said D’Arcy. “We look for creative, innovative self-starters with an entrepreneurial mindset – as being an international programme, having an international language is a distinct advantage but not essential.

“The process is designed to allow applicants to showcase their personality, experience and motivation for applying for the role of Brand Ambassador – and there are two parts to it – these include a two-minute video which is supported by a written application.

“The successful applicants then progress to a first and then second round assessment centre where presentation skills and competencies – including critical thinking, decision making, teamwork and leadership – are assessed. Research suggests that assessment centres are one of the most effective and reliable recruitment methods as they allow candidates to showcase their strengths through a variety of activities. And, every candidate who attends our assessment centre receives a feedback report on how they performed across all activities.”

Following a successful application, candidates are supported with their endeavours throughout the programme, as D’Arcy says that Irish Distillers “understands how important it is for an early career programme to support both personal and professional growth”.

“Jameson’s multi-award-winning development programme, ‘Distill Your Own Success’, is a key pillar of the programme’s success,” she said. “It applies a 70/20/10 approach to graduate development; 70 per cent on the job learning; 20 per cent learning through feedback and reflection and 10 per cent formal learning. Through this, graduates are afforded the best possible opportunities to build and develop their career.

“They are provided with the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to shape their own experience as part of the Jameson International Brand Ambassador Programme, enabling them to hone and develop the skills required to progress their career, while contributing to the global Irish whiskey success story.

“Additionally, graduates are plugged into a global community through the Irish Distillers and Pernod Ricard network, with excellent mentorship opportunities.”

Having completed the programme, the successful candidates will be in pole position to embark on a potentially stellar career.

“One of the great things about the programme is that it supports both personal and professional growth,” said D’Arcy. “Through our multi-award-winning training and development programme, graduates are afforded the best possible opportunity to build their career.

“Indeed, upon completion of the programme, many of our Brand Ambassadors have moved into post-programme roles within the wider network, and some have gone on to hold leadership positions within Irish Distillers domestically and Pernod Ricard globally.

“While there is no guarantee of a permanent role post-programme, we are here to support graduates with their next career move, be that internally with Irish Distillers, Pernod Ricard or a move externally. We have a full programme to help them to transition into their post-programme roles with career workshops, interview skills sessions and one-to-one career coaching.

“Graduates can find inspiration and advice on creating a successful two-minute video application on our website or on our YouTube channel. Applications for the 2024/25 Jameson International Graduate Programme will open in September and close in February 2024. All candidates can apply through www.jamesongraduateprogramme.com.”