Jim is a Brand Ambassador with Lambay Irish Whiskey part of the Ibec Global Graduates programme.
Tell us a few things about yourself
My name is Jim Doyle; I’m 25 and the US brand ambassador for Lambay Irish Whiskey. I was raised in the foothills of the garden of Ireland, Wicklow. At a young age, I was infatuated by with sport and developed a deep love for hurling, despite not being from a hurling stronghold. I suppose I owe it to my family ties to Waterford and Tipperary. Looking back, I probably didn’t have a choice but to love the sport. Over the next 22 years or so, I played for Bray Emmets, Wicklow underage, and ultimately the Wicklow senior hurlers.
My family hold Irish culture close to their hearts. As a result, I undertook my primary and secondary education through Irish, where I was lucky enough to attend Coláiste Eoin for six years. I took up rugby when I was 15 and I was privileged enough to represent Leinster rugby which earned me a sports scholarship at Maynooth Univeristy where I studied a bachelor of business studies and entrepreneurship with a year studying abroad at Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business, New York. This was an invaluable experience, exposing me to American culture, the New York attitude, as well as the experienced professors who had proven success in their professional fields.
But ultimately studying at Fordham opened up my eyes to a real sense of opportunity, positivity, growth and an obsession with the greatest city in the world. Following my undergraduate, I pursued further education with a masters in PR and Strategic Communications in Edinburgh.
Have you always wanted to work in the drink industry?
My fascination with the drinks industry took a natural trajectory. When I was 18 I started as a barback and worked my way up to be a cocktail barman developing cocktail menus in various types of establishments. Starting off at the renowned Harbour bar in Bray, to busy restaurants, the 5 star hotel and resort Druids Glen and finished up at the up market Oliveto Bar and restaurant, situated on the grounds of Haddington House Hotel, Dun Laoghaire.
These experiences developed my passion for consumer interaction, mixology, fast paced working environments, and educating the public on different spirits, especially Irish Whiskey. I was lucky enough to have had great mentors along this journey (too many to mention), which would ultimately lead me to the Ibec Graduate Programme. A programme that seamlessly fit with my education, experience, and passion.
What are a few things you’ve learned since you’ve started your placement?
Where to start? This experience really is a continuous learning curve.
1. Relationships – Everywhere I read about the landscape of the industry in America, the importance of relationships was highlighted. I admit, was sceptical of the importance of this. But it really is 90% of the business. In short, if people like you, the product, and you treat them well, consistent business will follow.
2. Communication – I cannot emphasise more how crucial communication is. It’s a jungle out there with a million and one things on the plate. But if you promise something you cannot fulfil on the date agreed, 9/10 a simple message or call will avoid tarnishing a relationship and people will be understanding.
3. Whiskey is Seasonal – April to September is beer, vodka, and spiked seltzer. It was something I definitely struggled to grasp over the mentioned months. However, it does provide a rest bite from the madness that prevails from October to the end of March and an opportunity to organize and strategize. I would say this is where 80% of business is done, especially for a new craft whiskey like Lambay.
4. It’s very tough but very rewarding – With a small crafted whiskey, it’s probably the first time anyone has heard and tasted the specified product. Disregarding the more well-known Irish whiskeys. You’re competing against every whiskey category. Without having the budget of the bigger companies to spends, accounts may be reluctant to take on your product. But it allows you to be creative in your approach and strategy (something I relish). I find with Lambay, doing in store tastings allows you to hand sell the product, giving a first-hand experience for consumer, developing a personal relationship while developing the relationship and commitment to the account. Then it’s time to nurture and maintain.
5. Distribution and Sales Reps – Arguably the most important cog in the wheel. Distribution network will facilitate the number of accounts you can reach, while sales reps will put you in front of the right person. From my experience to date, cold calling will result in sales 5-10% of the time and may require 3+ visits. In contrast, working with a rep sees an 80% success rate. More efficient and effective. It’s paramount to get reps on your side. You’ll typically get 2-4 days a month in market with them. If you can achieve this, they will bring you to their top accounts, call for one off account visits, and will actively work for your brand. Their business is built on their relationships.
What are your top tips that you would like to share with future Global Graduates?
I’ve covered some practical in market tips. But on a more personal level I’ve compiled a short list on my recommendations for your time on the programme.
Be Responsible – It sounds trivial, but it very easy to slip into the party lifestyle. You’re hear for a reason. And that is to build your brand and grow the Irish whiskey category on a whole. But more importantly, it could end up have a very negative impact on your physical and mental health.
Be a Sponge – This could arguably be the most valuable learning experience you’ll get in your working and personal life. I really have been blessed with my managers within Lambay Whiskey and our importer CIL US. Hat tip to Sabine Sheehan, Dan Tindal, Glenn Draghi, Alex Albu, Derek Hacker, Joe Bootow, and Jordan Lynch. I cannot emphasize the value I put on my learnings from this special group of people. Listen and ask questions. Never close your mind, thinking you know everything about the market. My understanding of the market, consumer and what needs to be done grows by the day.
Be Resilient – As I mentioned previously, It’s a rather ruthless and cut throat industry. Some people will be rude, you’ll get some doors thrown in your face. Don’t take it personally. There will be some very low points, but insurmountable high points. It’ll be worth it for those days.
N.B* Be Organised – It is an understatement to say this industry is fast-paced. Write down everything in your work calendar online, write it in a physical calendar, and write what you’ve done each day in a notepad (names of who you’ve met, when they’re in, and what you have promised etc.). This something I’m still trying to improve on but it will make your life much easier in the long run and make you far more effecient. Take an admin day a week, where you can keep up to date on receipts, map out your week, and have a clear mind and remained focused on the tasks ahead.
Read, Read, Read. – I find reading on topics such as relationships, habit, business and communication will help you greatly in developing as a brand ambassador. Which you can then take into any aspect of life. A couple ones that helped me greatly were “The Storyteller’s Secret” – Carmine Gallo, “5 Star Communication” – Carmine Gallo, “The Power of Habbit” – Charles Duhig, “What They Don’t Teach you at Harvard Business School” – Mark H. McCormack.
Build a Life Outside of the Industry – If you don’t you might feel you never stop working. Get some headspace, meet new people, go and travel, join a sports team, go to concerts, attend sports games. In essence, experience the location you’ve been placed in and experience all it has to offer.
Embrace the Opportunity – If you’re one of the lucky candidates to succeed in getting a placement, embrace the experience to its fullest. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. You’ll be exposed to an environment very few people will be exposed to at our age.
Live the experience, have a positive attitude and you’ll love it.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out on my Lambay Instagram account @thewolfofmaltstreet.
If you would like to apply to a Brand Ambassador placement as part of the Ibec Global Graduates programme click here to create your online application and apply to our August 2020 Brand Ambassador Programme!