THE EUROS WAS JUST ABOUT TO KICK OFF WHEN I CAUGHT UP WITH THREE OF HEINEKEN UK’S REGIONAL SALES MANAGERS TERESA BRANNAN, CATHERINE WHEELER AND VICKY TICE AT BABBITY BOWSTERS IN GLASGOW AS WELL AS BOSS JASON COCKBURN PICTURED BELOW. THEY WERE SET FOR A BUSY FEW WEEKS BUT TOOK THE TIME OUT TO TELL ME MORE ABOUT THEIR ROLES AND WHY THEY ENJOY WORKING IN THE SCOTTISH ON-TRADE AND FOR HEINEKEN.
BY SUSAN YOUNG
SETTING THE SCENE
Teresa Brannan is probably one of HEINEKEN’s longest-serving Sales Managers, with nearly 20 years under her belt. Today she is the Regional Sales Manager for Stirlingshire and Argyll and Bute. Her role takes her the length and breadth of the country. She also helps manage the company’s events. Before joining what was then Scottish & Newcastle (HEINEKEN bought it in 2007) Teresa worked as a Customer Services Manager for electronics company Motorola. But when it closed she saw a Scottish Brewers recruitment campaign saying, “Be all you can’t be”, and went for the interview which included a role-play and a hearing test (who knew?). Says Teresa, “To begin with I thought it would be a stop-gap until I went back into electronics. I’m still here 20 years later and the training and the support with regard to personal development has been a big part of my journey.”
Teresa’s first sales position was when the company needed someone to go on the road to handle Caledonian Heritable. Teresa recalls, “I got the account and the role came with a company car and a laptop. I was also tasked with visiting pubs in Edinburgh. What was there not to like? I loved it.”
Her next role came about when Alastair Moore needed a sales representative for Dumfries and Galloway. Teresa was very keen and wanted to stand out so she went for the interview dressed as a Foster’s font. Needless to say, she got the job. Says Teresa, “Over the years I have covered just about every area in Scotland except Aberdeen and Angus. No wonder people can’t place my accent. I have met lots of different characters, customers with different ways of working and sold lots of products. I love it, although it is hard work and you do need to have a thick skin. It helps that I am a big fan of football and horse racing so I am able to find something in common with most people. I also work with a great team.”
Catherine Wheeler is the Area Manager for Greater Glasgow. Before joining HEINEKEN three years ago she was with Peebles Publishing and sold advertising in its trade publications for 11 years. Although she jumped at the opportunity to join HEINEKEN she believes that some women may have a preconception about working for a brewer. She says, “I think that when people see a role at HEINEKEN come up they sometimes assume that they need to have a certain type of personality traits, for instance be bullish and headstrong, or that you have to be one of the guys to fit in with your team or the company. It’s just not like that. You also don’t have to play golf with your customers. I always thought that it was spirits reps that customers wanted to see, but it’s the beer rep that people want to sit down with because beer is a huge part of their business.”
Vicky Tice started out running nightclubs more than 18 years ago. In the past, she managed the Arches and worked for Luminar and Greene King before going to a Star Pubs & Bars recruitment event. She didn’t take on a pub but she did get her Regional Manager’s role for the parent company two years ago. However, she thinks it was partly because she was the only woman in the room at the event which meant she stood out and that worked to her advantage. She now looks after Aberdeen and Angus and believes that her background as an operator has really helped her build relationships. She says, “When I tell them I have worked in the trade you can see them mentally ticking the box.”
ALL IN A DAY’S WORK
Teresa: “I joined the company thinking I would be team manager but I also run events like the Highland Show – 14 bars in a big field! I look after Perth Racecourse, Hamilton Racecourse and Kelso too. I don’t just sell beer and cider, I have had amazing experiences doing all the event management.
I have also discovered there is a ferry from Ardrossan to Campbeltown on a Sunday night. I start from my furthest point on a Monday and work my way up to Inverary and Lochgoilhead and stay over then go further up to Oban and Port Appin and stay there – it is like a money can’t buy job. Some people say ‘you call that work?’”
Catherine: “I am currently in a pilot group that is embracing reverse mentoring. I mentor one of the guys on the management team and, usually, we would not engage with each other at all. He is the very opposite of me, and he works in a much more introverted environment. He is learning what it feels like to be a younger female working in the company and the industry. It is giving him a real insight into a completely different role.”
Vicky: “On sunny days, not when it snows, it takes me three hours to get to the furthest away point. I stick the radio on and away I go.
I’m a mum and sometimes it is good to have that time – it is a bit of freedom and we have some of the best countryside in the UK. It’s very flexible. It is not strict 9am to 5pm – perhaps HEINEKEN should shout about that a bit more. My child goes to primary and I drop him off at 9am then do my job, and if there are any doctor’s appointments I can work around them. In fact, some of your customers can’t see you between 9am and 5pm and sometimes it suits to go in later. As long as we get the work done it is flexible and HEINEKEN also help by giving childcare vouchers.”
WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE TO SOMEONE CONSIDERING TAKING ON A SALES ROLE AT A BEER COMPANY?
Teresa: “I would say don’t be scared, embrace it. Some people say to me, ‘how do you walk into a pub on your own?’. I respond, ‘It’s like walking into a shop. You will always find a friendly face’. I always say to Jason my next ‘no’ is there or my next ‘yes’. Most people still want to speak to you. They always ask, ‘what are you selling? Have you anything in your boot?’”
HOW HAVE YOU FOUND THE TRADE SINCE IT RE-OPENED?
Teresa: “People are just glad to see people and we are happy to see them whether it’s customers we supply directly, indirectly, or we are prospecting. I have had a lot of doors open in the last six weeks.
It’s great now because we didn’t, in the past, visit customers that didn’t trade directly with us. Now we can have conversations even if only one of our brands is on the bar – the most important thing is that the brand is being supported and we will work with the customer and supply point of sale that they require, such as glasses.”
Vicky: “It’s been very much about building relationships. First and foremost we are always asking them how they are, especially after Covid. It’s always great getting to know people, and the more you know the more you can help with regard to what they are selling. They are really glad to see you.”
HOW HAS THE ON-TRADE CHANGED AND ARE THERE STILL BARRIERS WHEN IT COMES TO BEING A WOMAN WORKING IN THE BEER INDUSTRY?
Teresa: “I’ve been in all-male teams but I have always felt that my gender didn’t really come into play. Sometimes it is more the customers that react differently to a woman, however I do think that being a woman in the trade does have the advantages because usually people will take the time to talk to you. In the past, customers may have thought ‘why is this wee lassie from the brewer trying to tell us what to do?’. But now they realise that I can actually help them with their pub and their sales by advising them on what beer they should be stocking that would suit their customers and their rate of sale.
Occasionally if it is a working men’s club the committee may not all agree on what to stock but most can see the business angle – if you are selling four kegs of a premium brand every four weeks and only one keg of another every six weeks it doesn’t make much commercial sense. We are trying to grow their business – if they are growing their business, our business will grow.
I can remember going to a club to meet the committee and when they found out I was a female I had to wait outside until I could be escorted in. Thankfully these days are long gone.”
Catherine: “My area is the city centre and it is a bit different in the city – I find that my customers are used to dealing with females. Females coming into our industry can be their authentic selves. They don’t have to change to fit in.”
Vicky: “In Aberdeenshire some of my customers may still refer to me as the ‘girl from the brewery’. I think you do have to work at it a bit harder than your male colleagues but once you do get their respect there is no going back. I have been in the licensed trade for 18 years and I worked in nightclubs all over Scotland. When I started females were treated as if they were little girls, but that has all turned on its head. There has been a complete shift in the last five years. Women are much more confident and I’ve certainly got more confident over the years.”
Jason adds: “The industry is definitely getting better but there is still a way to go. We, at HEINEKEN, are trying to make people more
aware of any gender bias that they maybe don’t realise they have.”
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE EVENT WITH HEINEKEN?
Teresa: “There have been so many. However, I have presented the Scottish Amateur Cup on four occasions at Hampden and have sat in the Queen’s Box. That was amazing.”
Catherine: “One of the last nights at the Bandstand Summer Nights – Human League were playing and they sang Electric Dreams which was the song used on the Strongbow advertising – the crowd all sang along. It was a perfect night and I thought, how lucky am I to be part of this experience?”
Vicky: “It had to be the BBC Sports Personality of the Year event in Aberdeen. We were involved right from the beginning and it was great to invite people along and it was great to see our customers blown away by the hospitality and the event.”
Teresa: “I always ask people if you had a magic wand and you got three wishes what would they be. They always say – good service, a good price and to see a good rep. When I joined this company the strapline was ‘Be all you can’t be’, and that holds true today. There is nothing holding you back at HEINEKEN.”
Vicky: “I love experiencing new experiences. Two days are never the same and it is definitely not boring. The added bonus is getting to experience all the events HEINEKEN sponsors!”
Catherine: “It’s stretching and rewarding. The endpoint justifies the effort. Freddie Heineken always said, ‘we don’t sell beer we sell a feeling.’ That’s why we do this job.”