I have recently taken out a genetic test to find out some information about my background. I was curious in particular about my ancestry composition. That got me thinking about how our behaviour at work is shaped to create our work persona, and about my own in particular…
Based on experience and research, one could argue that our behaviour at work is defined not only by our internal composition (our genes and all of the factors that they influence in our unique make up) but also by our environment and those who have had an influence on us, whether positive or negative. At work, these agents of influence could be co-workers, mentors, colleagues from other departments, employees reporting into you, but the one most likely to have a greater degree of influence daily, is your line manager.
Over the years whilst working in the Drinks Industry, I have met a weird and wonderful collection of individuals who have made my experience a richer one for sure. They always reminded me of why the industry is such a reflection of the products we represent. There are too many to mention but you know who you all are…
Equally, I have experienced the pleasure (or pain) of working for line managers with very different styles and approaches, whether negotiating with a customer, influencing the internal departments or handling a last minute crisis or demand for additional sales.
There have been a handful of them that I have looked up to and learnt a great deal from by working side by side on a daily basis, people such as Stewart MacRae at The Edrington Group , Rita Greenwood at William Grant & Sons or David Everett at Maxxium UK.
However, for the purpose of this blog, I wanted to reflect further back to the time when I first started working as a Field Sales Controller with a large team within the On Trade, in the UK Domestic market at Maxxium UK. This was the largest team of people I had managed up to that point and my first foray into the on trade channel. Previously, my experience in drinks was managing the Tesco business, which although hugely important due to the size of the account and impact on the overall company P&L, it involved a very different set of skills.
As Gordon Muir, who I worked with at Maxxium UK at the time, said whilst endorsing me on LinkedIn:
I worked closely with Andre in his roles as Tesco account manager and particularly field sales controller while I worked in brand and trade marketing management at Maxxium. Andre always impressed me with his energy, enterprise and stong solutions-focused approach. I watched him take his first steps as a man manager and quickly become an accomplished and well respected leader of a large team.
However, what Gordon did not say, is the impact that my line manager at the time had on my own development. The person that gave me the opportunity to expand beyond my experience and continuously coached and mentored me. The person that helped shape my work persona and drove me to reflect on the consequences of my actions on others and the business. That person was the Maxxium UK On Trade Sales Director (now retired – see link): Jim Grierson.
I have recently had the pleasure of meeting with him during the Christmas break and it was great to see him again (as well as Margaret Henderson, his PA, whom I have missed working with also). Both are now retired and no longer work at Maxxium UK.
I still remember the coaching sessions with Jim in his office where we would bring a white board or flipchart and he would question me on different topics and areas relating to work and pushed me to respond. Only after I had fully shared my thoughts and ideas, would Jim contribute with his pearls of wisdom from previous years of experience and managing people throughout his career. I always enjoyed and looked forward to those discussions.
Jim also instilled in me the belief in building drinks brands in the On Trade and introduced me to a huge variety of very gifted individuals working in the bar scene across London and the rest of the UK. He was the person responsible for bringing in Wayne Collins (pictured below) into Maxxium UK to lead the Mixxit programme and work with others in the team such as Andy Gemmell, Patsy Christie, amongst others.
I wanted to take the opportunity of writing this blog post to thank Jim Grierson for all the help and support that he provided me with over the years. I have no doubt that he has had a very positive impact on my career and development of my work persona. He was a key influence in the origin of me within the drinks industry at least.
Thank you Jim!
Picture below from 2009 at the Living Trust Dinner held at The Gleneagles Hotel, listening to Jim Grierson with David Everett also present.
For those curious about the genetic test, the company I used was called 23andme and below is my ancestry composition…