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Sharing Thoughts on International Women’s Day – Deirdra McBeth, Senior Brand Manager, Prestige Whiskies at Irish Distillers

Deirdra McBeth generously shared some time with us to talk through some topical questions around International Women’s Day. With over 12 Years international & domestic experience within the Wine & Spirits industry based across 4 global markets with Pernod Ricard Irish Distillers including the USA, New Zealand, UK & Ireland.

Managing brands such as Jameson Irish Whiskey, Redbreast and Midleton Very Rare both in the domestic Irish market aswell as internationally in Asia, Europe & SSA across Comms and influencer development.

Outside of the whiskey category Deirdra has led and developed many Pernod Ricard lifestyle spirit brands in the UK and Ireland- Havana Club, Beefeater Gin and the full Wine & Champagne portfolio (Perrier Jouet, Mumm, Jacob’s Creek). Currently managing Prestige Whiskies from the Midleton Distillery as well as Luxury Sales for Ireland’s leading on and off trade customers. 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day is a chance for businesses and society generally to press pause and re-look at how we are doing things. In most areas, we can now celebrate that women are pretty much equal or leading the way. But there are still small nuances, slight biases even in a progressive country like Ireland where there is room to keep challenging ourselves. 

What progress have you seen on gender equality within your field? 

I’ve worked in the industry for 12 years and have seen huge changes even in that time. Specifically, within Irish Distillers we’ve seen female engineers now becoming distillers & blenders at a production level. We’ve also had 2 female Managing Directors in our company for the last 4-5 years,  Louise Ryan & Claire Tolan.

From a hospitality side, you’ll also find it is great females leading the charge across the mixology & marketing roles in some of Ireland’s leading venues, – Linda O’Flynn from Cask,  Sarah Ormston at Adare Manor or Laura Arnold at Press Up as examples.

What I’d like to see more of is women in Sales roles or in owner/operator positions as they are still quite male focused.

We would love to hear about a Women’s empowerment moment that inspired you?

A small but conscious decision was made within Irish Distillers a few years ago that instead of targeting only males, we would include females in the strategy going forward for Jameson.   We recognized that it is a mindset, a lifestyle & a way of viewing the world that defines who our consumer is – not their gender.

How can women better enable each other instead of competing? What needs to change in your opinion?

I’ve found we are lucky as females in Ireland as there is a great network of mentors and friendships within the Irish Drinks Industry. This year alone we’ve seen a female wing of the “Bartender’s Football Club” established which shows the strength of relationships across this network.

Across PR & marketing, women such as Tara O’Connor, Sharon Yourell and Ann Corcoran have all done wonders to support and mentor females across our industry- whether that is in hospitality or retail sectors.

What needs to change is the feeling that there is only a certain amount of room at the table for females and that we can’t all compete at a certain level.  There is room for all of us and women supporting each other should be the default, not the exception.

What do you think helped you get so far in your career? How can we mentor young girls to dream bigger?

Other than a few late nights and hard work, I think being part of a globally progressive company has really been the catalyst behind my career. Irish Distillers has always championed women, ensured our voices are heard and pushed us forward to be the best we can. 

Our culture is a tight knit community, but one which very much celebrates individuality. Whether you are creative and entrepreneurial or more strategic and process led, there is room to grow and celebrate your style.   

I feel young girls should be helped at an earlier age to understand where their strengths and passions lie. Far too often, we try to fit the mould, adhere to the rules or work in a way that isn’t right for us out of fear of losing out or not being “good enough”. But we’d all be of better use to the world if we truly understood what our best attributes are, then run with it.