Responding to a Crisis: How Jameson is dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19

This week we’re chatting to the Jameson International Graduate Programme about how they’ve been coping with the outbreak of COVID-19.

It has been very uplifting seeing companies face the COVID – 19 challenges head-on with humanity, creativity and kindness. When things are going well, it is easy for a leader to do their job, however, during these tough times, it becomes a lot more challenging.

As we’ve mentioned before, companies will be remembered for their response to this global pandemic.

And so, we decided to chat to some well known businesses, and see what they’ve been doing to help their staff during this period.

This week, we’re chatting to Jameson International Graduate Programme, a brand advocacy programme that gives graduates the opportunity to go abroad to build brand awareness for our world-renowned Irish whiskey with consumers, bartenders and influencers in various countries. 

We chatted to Sinéad D’Arcy and Gillian Skinner about how they have been coping over the last few months. 


How is Jameson coping with working remotely? Have you put in place anything to keep your culture going, etc?

We find ourselves in exceptional times which has challenged us all to adapt to a new norm over the past couple of months. Our global family of 75 #Jameson Brand Ambassadors based in 50 international markets have had to adapt from a predominantly field based role to the new reality of working from home. To support them with this, as part of our overall Distill Your Own Success learning and development programme, we designed an initiative called Staying Connected.
Staying Connected was a 1-month initiative rolled out over the month of April which had 3 core focus areas: 1. Communication 2. Well-Being 3. Self-Development. Content created was a combination of bespoke content, Brand Ambassador generated content and leveraging existing tools such as LinkedIn Learning, Irish Distillers well-being programme THRIVE and Pernod Ricard University modules.

We leveraged WhatsApp as the main comms platform for Staying Connected and housed content on our LinkedIn Learning eLearning platform. As a business our biggest priority is our people, their health, safety and well-being. Staying Connected was one way we supported our global family of Jameson Brand Ambassadors during these exceptional times.

The Brand Ambassadors were fully engaged with this initiative and one was quoted as saying “Staying Connected is a great initiative. I think the team have done an amazing job of connecting us all and I personally feel like there is constant support there for myself and my fellow Brand Ambassadors.”

What are the 3 best tools that you would recommend when working remotely?

To stay connected our Jameson Brand Ambassadors have mostly been using:

  • Microsoft Teams for internal meetings
  • WhatsApp to stay in contact informally as a group
  • Instagram has played a big part in how our Brand Ambassadors
    adapted their role to an online context. They have used this for live
    online training sessions, cocktail masterclasses and initiatives such as Whiskey Wednesday.

From an online learning perspective, they have been using LinkedIn Learning completing almost a combined 350 online modules over 8-weeks of the lockdown period.

Are you up-skilling your employees while they WFH? If so how?

Encouraging our BA’s to invest in self-development has been a big focus our of programme at this time. As part of Distill Your Own Success, our learning and development programme, we work with LinkedIn Learning as our e-learning partners. BA’s have completed almost 350 online modules over 8-weeks of the lockdown period.

Our Staying Connected initiative also had a particular focus on Self-Development where we asked Brand Ambassadors to share their learning experiences with each other supporting peer-to-peer learning.

How should someone do a remote job interview?

Prepare as you usually would for an interview. Wear what you would wear if you were going to meet the interviewer in person. Check your connection and the link you have been sent to join the interview before the interview time itself. Think about what your background looks like, can you clearly be seen in the camera / on screen. Is your sound working? If you live with other people have to flagged with them that you are doing an interview, so they know not to disturb you?

As you’re not meeting the interviewer in person it’s important to spark a connection with them. You can do this by asking who is going to interview you and looking up their LinkedIn profile / online footprint beforehand.

Ensure you get your personality across and make yourself stand out.

How have you been demonstrating your culture and values during this time?

As mentioned above our biggest priority as a business is our people, their health, safety and well-being. This has been at the centre of all the decisions the business has made at this time. In terms of culture, being convivial is at the heart of everything we do. We have leveraged technology during this time to stay connected and have those convivial moments with our colleagues. We have had virtual cheers on a Friday to kickstart the weekend, weekly online challenges and weekly check-ins. We’ve also used vlogs to stay in touch as a business and WhatsApp has been a great way to stay in touch instead of always using email.

What permanent changes do you think we will see to the workforce post-Covid-19?

Companies have learnt fast how to leverage technology to support business continuity during this time and this will inevitably continue into the future. This enables flexible working initiatives such as working from home to be embedded as part of the new norm post COVID-19.

What 3 things would you like your employees to say about how your company has handled this situation and your culture during this pandemic?

  1. We prioritised them as individuals, their health, safety and well-being.
  2. We communicated in a timely, clear and transparent way with them.
  3. We stayed true to who we are as a business and to our core values.

Do you think remote working will become more accepted post Coronavirus?

Yes, companies will continue to leverage technology to evolve the way we work and working remotely will be more widely accepted and encouraged.


What positive aspects of working from home has Jameson taken from this experience that you will implement your work ethic in the future?

As a business we almost feel more connected now than ever. We have learnt that you don’t have to be physically in the same place to feel connected to each other, that this can be done through technology.

Technology is a great enablers and as a business you need to ensure you have invested in the right technology to support business continuity.

What can talent do now to place them in a better position when looking for a job in a few months?

Our best advice would be to get yourselves future ready, how can you best utilise this time to increase your chances of getting the job you want now or in the future. There are lots of online tools that can be easily accessed to up-skill at this time such as Udemy where there are thousands of online courses available. Pick courses that you are interested in and also ones that could be attractive to a potential employer. Also take this time to review your digital footprint and see if it reflects the image you’re trying to convey to potential employers. Your personal brand is more important than ever.

What are the challenges facing job seekers over the next 6-12 months (post Coronavirus)?

There is no doubt that the impact of COVID-19 will have a far-reaching impact on the economy domestically and globally and that this will have an impact on the job’s markets. Some companies may impose a recruitment freeze while others may have more roles to fill. This will really be sector dependent. While some sectors may take some time to recover post COVID-19 other sectors such as Biotech, Med-Tech, Pharmaceuticals and roles in areas such as supply chain, procurement & engineering could see growth. For jobseekers this is a time to prepare for the future, to look at what can you do now that will put you in a better position for when that dream job opens up. Now is the time to invest in your updating your online footprint, your personal brand and ensuring you have the skills that will be in demand to support our recovery.

To learn more about the Jameson Graduate Programme, click here.

Author Rebecca O'Keeffe

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