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Stephanie Hartog

What's your job about?

Diageo is a multinational alcoholic beverage company, whose purpose is to celebrate life every day, everywhere and act as the custodians of some of the most iconic brands in the world. My current role is Category Exec for the light FSBS category (Gin, Vodka, Teqila, etc) for Australia. A large part of my role is looking at the performance of products within these categories and providing actionable recommendations (based on data/insights) to both external and internal stakeholders. This has meant that I have been given the opportunity to present to customers across the country on how to optimise their range (what they should consider including or removing to improve their performance in the market), trends within the spirits industry and partner with them to map out future areas for growth within their business. The Category function has many touch points across the business, especially Innovation, Brand and the Commercial Teams. This means that projects can be very diverse in nature – ranging from working on plans for new products to working up in store shelving recommendations for customers.

What's your background?

I’m half Dutch, half Swiss but grew up in Sydney. I did most of my schooling in Sydney, apart from one year when I was 14 and my family moved over to Switzerland for a year. This turned out to have a big impact on where I decided to study after high school, as I moved back when I was 18 and spent 4 years back in Switzerland for completing university. As part of my degree, I had to complete two 6-month internships. I did the first one in the Events/Food and Beverage Department of a hotel in Montalcino, Italy; and the second one as Channel Sales & Development intern for Africa/Middle East at Heineken in Amsterdam, which is where I decided that I definitely wanted to work in FMCG. I moved back to Australia after University and worked in Sales for Veeam (IT Company) before joining Diageo 2 years ago on their Global Graduate Programme. My first year was spent on the Key Accounts Team (Commercial), and I am about to complete my second rotation as Category Exec (Marketing).

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Someone with a different background could definitely do my job – there are 4 Category Execs on the Category team and we are all incredibly diverse in our professional/educational background. The team is incredibly supportive and everyone acts as each-other’s sounding boards and teachers – having different strengths is part of what makes it such a great team. Anyone who is driven and has a willingness to learn, enjoys being stretched and likes working with others would perform well in this role.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The coolest thing about working for Diageo is the people you work with – the company has an amazingly dynamic and very inclusive culture. From a functional perspective, the thing I have enjoyed most in my role is presenting to customers. While it can be daunting, especially the first few times, knowing that you are truly adding value to them by helping them optimise their range/performance is extremely satisfying. There is a huge amount of trust and responsibility given to Graduates, while you also have the support and guidance from the wider business when you need it.

What are the limitations of your job?

The great thing about Diageo’s Graduate Programme is that the roles we are in are real roles within the business – they do not create specific “Graduate Roles” for us. This means that we bear the same amount of responsibility and accountability as any other employee, which is hugely beneficial to our professional development. When it comes to hours It’s an extremely flexible workplace – hours are usually from 8:30 to 5:30, and weekend work is very rare.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • It’s a cliché, but there are no stupid questions. It’s much better to ask than to have to re-do work because you were too nervous to get clarification. No one has or is expected to have all the answers and everyone is learning as they go.
  • Decide what you want and have a list of goals, but accept that those decisions are never final. Challenge your own decisions regularly, make them earn their place on the list.
  • Have fun! Choose something you enjoy doing with people you enjoy working with – it will make coming to work something you look forward to rather than something you dread.