EDUCATION: BA in Economics; MSC in International Management
JOB TITLE: Advertising: International Account Manager
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Direct + Down-to-Earth + Open-minded
What’s your story?
I’m American and half-Korean. I grew up in a pretty rural area of Kentucky. I didn’t speak Korean or know anything about my heritage, so I decided to study abroad in South Korea during university, which in a roundabout way led me coming to France. Long story short, I fell in love with a Frenchman. I’ve been living in the Paris area for almost 3 years: first, as an au pair, then as a student, and now as an advertising professional.
What inspired you to go into advertising?
Somewhat randomly. I found an internship I thought would be interesting and ended up sticking around. However, I’ve always considered myself someone who enjoys being creative as well as organized, logical, and business oriented. Advertising ended up being a great fit for me since it’s a balance of the two. I’m very lucky to have found a career that I enjoy directly out of university.
What does your job entail on a day to day basis?
You can break most of my responsibilities down into 2 categories: strategy and project management.
When we’re in the strategy phase of a project, I might be helping put together competitive reviews and benchmarks, giving feedback on key messaging, or brainstorming ideas for an upcoming campaign.
The project management side is most of my day-to-day job. I coordinate between different internal departments, give feedback on creative work, sell our ideas to the clients, and basically have my hands in all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into a TV commercial, social media campaign, etc.
What do you like the most about what you do?
I love how dynamic my job can be. Every project I work on is different and I’m constantly learning.
What was your first job?
I worked in a local diner in my university town. It was terrible. I was underpaid illegally in cash, but it was the only job I could find where I didn’t need a car to get to work.
What are you passionate about?
My passion is to live a simple and fulfilling life according to my own rules. It’s not linked to a professional goal or anything like that, although having a satisfying and engaging career is a part of that.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would like to become a naturalized citizen of France. As for my career, I’m happy with the path I’m on now…we’ll see what opportunity it holds and whether it will be in France or elsewhere.
What’s your proudest moment?
I’d like to think it’s still yet to come.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
You never get what you don’t ask for.
No one is ever going to come and tap you on the shoulder saying hey do you want a raise? You have to actively pursue it. Don’t be too shy or humble if you think you deserve it, just ask.
Fake it ‘til you make it
I, and I think this is true for a lot of women, often suffer from imposter syndrome. Sometimes I feel like I’m not smart enough, experienced enough, or whatever it is, which is absolutely not true. So whenever I’m feeling under-confident, I just fake it and eventually the self-confidence comes.
What message/tips would you like to give to young women with similar aspirations?
Try to surround yourself with people who you can learn from. Whenever you get to the point where you feel like you’re the smartest person in the room, that’s when you should watch out. That’s when you stop learning and become complacent.
EDUCATION: International Business at Loughborough University
JOB TITLE: Digital Delivery Analyst at Accenture
DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN THREE WORDS
Energetic, ambitious and resilient
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
My name is Rene and I’m an only child of Caribbean heritage. I graduated from Loughborough University with a 2.1 BSc in International Business in 2016. I went straight into Goldman Sachs, working in their Operations Middle office, following a one year placement I had completed with them in 2014. However, after a year I made a career switch to technology consulting and started at Accenture 1 year ago.
Growing up, between the ages of 14-16 years old, I wanted to be an actress. I developed a Iove for Shakespeare, and performed the lead roles in several Shakespeare plays at The Lyric Theatre, Richmond Theatre, and Queen Elizabeth Southbank theatre. I also wrote and performed my own dramatic monologues.
I took a gap year following my A levels to pursue my interest in Music and TV. Whilst I didn’t want to be in front of the camera, I loved the idea of working on the more business side of things behind it. I bombarded all the major record labels and TV stations with my CV and cover letter via email, post, and even visited them all!! After months of rejections and no replies, I secured my first ever internship at Channel 4 and did some social media promo work for Dizzee Rascals Label – Dirtee Stank recordings. Channel 4 offered me a full-time job but I decided I wanted to go university.
My parents, grandparents, uncles and aunties always instilled a strong work ethic in me. Despite not having much, my parents always encouraged me to never use that as an excuse. For example, I never had a computer / laptop until I started university and could use my student loan to buy one, so I used to go the internet café / library every day after school and on weekends to type up my coursework. I will forever be grateful to the internet café owners in Shepherds Bush who would sometimes allow me to print my coursework for free.
Once I started university, due to the nature of my course, I quickly became interested in banking and finance, going beyond what I was learning in my lectures but doing my own reading and research. I did a spring internship in the IBD division of Credit Suisse, then a year later I embarked on my placement year in Operations at Goldman Sachs. Following my placement, I did an internship at Barclays, as an Innovation and Strategy intern for their Barclaycard business. After graduation I returned to Goldmans.
WHAT DOES YOUR JOB ENTAIL ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS?
It depends on my actual project and role. With consulting, everything few months you’re on a new project. In my first project as a Junior Project Manager on an Open Banking project, I was creating project plans, having daily calls with UI/UX designers, testers, developers to check progress, helped to create User journeys. Now I’m an Adobe Experience Manager product specialist so my days are very different.
I love that every few months, I start learning about something I had no understanding of before. In addition, I love that I can physically see the outcome of my work. For example, I just redesigned 30 webpages for my client. These pages went live last week. Now, when I visit their website, I can see the pages I created and millions of their customers can as well.
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?
I’m most passionate about helping people younger than myself navigate their way into the working work. I spend a lot of my free time mentoring sixth form and university students via the Stephen Lawrence Charitable trust, The University of Greenwich Business school and most recently the SEO HerCapital programme.
I’m currently putting together a book for black students and early stage professionals. It will feature interviews with 20 successful black professionals talking about the highs and lows of their careers, bouncing back from failure and advice on how those of us starting out can win in these environments which weren’t necessary created for us. I received my first submission last week and I’m super excited to read more. Follow me on twitter (@rianyon92) to keep up with developments and the launch dates.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN?
The race is not for the swift but for those that can endure it – it’s not really advice but it’s a great reminder that it’s not always about speed when trying to achieve something.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO YOUNG WOMEN WITH SIMILAR ASPIRATIONS?
Comparison is the thief of joy, so don’t compare yourself to others: Everyone’s journey is so different and what works for one person may not work for You. March to the beat of your own drum.
Trust your gut: When I decided to move from banking to consulting, a few people told me that I was making a bad decision. But my gut told me different and it was right.
Stay authentic: Proceed in a way that is true and authentic to who you are as a person.
Keep learning, keep asking questions: It’s ok to be stuck, to be unsure, and to simply not know, but make sure you ask questions (no matter how small or silly they may seem) and keep updating your skills. There’s loads of free/affordable online courses on platforms such as Udemy, Open University, Coursera, LinkedIn learning and more. Don’t become stagnant.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS?
In 5 years’ time, I see myself still learning, still growing and continuing to do something I love, whether its consulting or something different.
Irish Whiskey, Entrepreneurship and Empowerment: Spectra Meets Louise McGuane, Founder of Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Co.
Louise MGuane and I talk about her successful corporate career, why she decided to become an entrepreneur, and why exposure is so important when figuring out what you want to do.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
*This interview was originally published in September 2016*
ASTA: Let’s start with your career journey. How did it start? What’s your story?
LOUISE: I’ve had a good almost 20 years career in the global drink industry. After university I managed to get an internship in the US, working for a dot-com where I did communication work for about a year. That kind of translated into hard-core PR and I was snapped up by a PR agency that specialised in the digital space.
I made the transition over to the drinks industry around the time when the dot-com bubble burst back in the 90s. I worked for LVMH, the big luxury group conglomerate, in their drinks sector, doing international marketing communications for a champagne brand that they had. They then transferred me from New York to Paris to join the global marketing team of another champagne brand. After a few years I moved back to the US for a while, then worked on the relaunch of a global vodka brand for Pernod Ricard. I relaunched that brand globally to 50+ countries.
My corporate career ended at the multinational company DIAGEO across their luxury drinks portfolio. I managed one of their biggest marketing drive programs globally for 5 to 6 years. I was in Singapore most of the time but I was in London some of the time.
I left that job about 2 years ago because I got married. My husband was living in London and couldn’t follow me around.
I had also become quite jaded with the corporate life – you know it really takes it out of you. It’s very politically minded and it becomes less about what you do and more about who know within the organisation. I needed to make a decision – whether I was going to stay on that track or use the skillset that I have in the global drinks industry, and do something for myself.I decided on the latter, came back to Ireland and started an Irish Whiskey Company. Irish Whiskey is really booming at the moment so I figured it was a good time to start and I had the resources – some property in Ireland and good access to capital. So that’s where I am at the moment. We started about a year ago and we’re looking to launch our first product January/February of 2017.
ASTA: If you had to describe your brand in 3 words, which would they be and why?
LOUISE: The brand is called JJ Corry. The three words are Provenance, Heritage and Modernity.
Provenance because we are squarely rooted in a real place. It’s not a made up place. The provenance is my family farm on the West coast of Ireland, which is right along the wild atlantic way. It’s a beautiful place and got the microclimate and it’s perfect for aging whiskey.
Heritage. Our heritage is real. I went out and I found an old whiskey brand from the 1890s that was run by a guy called JJ Corry who was my father’s great second cousin 5 or 6 times removed. He was a real guy, he made his whiskey exactly how we’re going to make our whiskey. He blended it and aged it on his family farm and sold it in his little pub. I’m bringing that brand back to life. We’re going to take the original packaging that he used and give it a bit of a modern twist.
The Modernity element. Yes, I’m making an Irish Whiskey but the Whiskey market has really evolved. People who are drinking Whiskey are younger, they are really into authenticity and they’re adventurous in what they drink.
So the modern element to our brand story is that we’re taking inspiration from JJ Carry and we’re using really new and innovative aging techniques with the whiskey. For example, instead of charring the inside of a barrel with fire, we’re going to use infrared light.
I’ve built a really advanced whiskey aging facility on the family farm that is unlike anything on the whole Island of Ireland. It has a number of unique features that will keep humidity high and encourage extraction of flavour from the barrels, and we’re also working on a line of much much younger non-traditional whiskeys underneath the JJ Corry label that haven’t been tried before. That’s our modern element.
We’re appealing to the up and coming whiskey consumer who is demanding these kinds of things.
ASTA: Where do you see your business going?
LOUISE: I left a global brand to create a global brand. Irish Whisky is huge, particularly in the United States. It’s Growing in South Africa, it’s big in France and it’s growing in Russia. My goal is to launch a small portion of Irish whiskies initially into the US and then build that brand until I have a 250K brand – and I want to do this within a year. It’s a hard and fast commercial goal.
ASTA: How many people are you working with at the moment?
LOUISE: At the moment I’m the only full time person on the job. I have a number of exterior consultants that I work with.
I have just completed an Angel round. We had a Crowd funding round in November to test the concept. Then I raised a round of Angel investment to get us going in terms of procuring products, beginning branding and etc. And now I’m closing out on a seed round of funding and as soon as that is closed, I’m looking to hire some people in sales and marketing.
When we launch in January/February in the US, I’m looking to deploy at least 2 brand ambassadors. Right now it’s just me, but we’re looking to scale up quite quickly.
ASTA: I’ve been hearing this a lot lately: if you can do it yourself, you should – you don’t need to add people to the team unless you have to.
LOUISE: I’ll be honest with you: I’m feeling it now. When I started I did everything. I learnt how to make a website.I did all of the social media – I opened up an Instagram, planned tweets and Facebook posts. I did the Kickstarter campaign, I took care of fundraising.
That’s the thing about entrepreneurship – you find out that you can do a lot of things, whereas in the corporate world you’re boxed in.
But the next round of investment will be hard because of the team. You need to know when to take someone on board.
ASTA: Do you need a cofounder?
LOUISE: Not a cofounder per se, but someone at my level with specific commercial skills. I already have some dilution in the business because some investment are seed investments. I will either pay for someone else or bring them in with some equity incentive.
ASTA: I hope to have a career that’s just as international as yours. Did you have a plan or did it just happen?
LOUISE: I grew up in a tiny village in rural Ireland. I went to university in the UK and as soon as I had the opportunity for international travel I had to go. The ironic thing is that after all these years I’ve gone back.
I think at the beginning [of my career] it just sort of happened because I had no exposure to anything really – from the tiny rural place that I was from there weren’t a lot of role models for me actually coming up. All I had was ambition and drive and I enjoyed working.
The more I got exposed to things, the more I saw the opportunities that were out there – I sort of planned pretty quickly and kept track of what my end goal was. I always had a 5 years plan but I was also aware that a 5 year plan can change and I would review it every couple of years to see how I was doing. But I had a direction and the direction was thought.
As long as you have a concept of where you want to be, then the details will work themselves out because you know where you’re headed. You can’t plan the details.
ASTA: How would you compare the challenges in your corporate career to the ones you face as an entrepreneur?
LOUISE: The corporate world is like Game of Thrones. 40% is about how good you are. And the other 60% is about your connections. Very often, that didn’t translate well for me. I was very head down. I was very produce, produce, produce. I should have realised that it’s not what you do, but rather it’s how you do things.
I’ve realised that the skills I have are much more suited to being an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur I have had to unlearn a lot. Corporates have time. I now have to go on my guts – act 40 times faster than a multinational.
ASTA: The conventional advice given to women is to make sure you learn how to play the rules of the corporate game. Do you think that advice holds? Or is the main challenge for women not to learn how to play the game but to be in a leading position to change the game?
LOUISE: You can’t change the game. You have to be good and you have to produce. Women are very results driven in the corporate world. But there is a balance. In order to get into boardroom positions, you need to find yourself a mentor. You will survive on merit, you will get a really good country management job. But to get to the upper echelons – the board level, you’re going to need a crew, a squad to get you there.
But it’s not solely political. It means that you can consult people for advice. People will be able to help you along the way.
ASTA: Do you think that’s going to change (the whole who you know game) with startups as they become organisations?
LOUISE: When a company reaches a certain scale, they keep their spirit and their ethos. But they’re going to have to have an HR department. Companies have to become like big machines. The difference between start-ups and the old companies I worked for is the company culture and ethos e.g. Google, Uber.
Those older companies – the way that they function is so slow. One of the companies I used to work for – they can’t really adapt their internal culture. But they’ve set up an internal business unit that goes around and invests in small start ups in San Fran. So they can learn from those brands and in the future they could acquire them.
ASTA: Are entrepreneurs made or are they born?
LOUISE: I had this conversation with somebody yesterday. I think entrepreneurs are definitely made. I know people who spring out of the womb and have all of these businesses.
Where I come from, no one knew what an entrepreneur was but I was still one myself.
So some are made, some are born.
ASTA: See It, Be It. What inspired it? Where do you see it going?
LOUISE: The thinking behind it was inspired by Sheryl Sandberg: If you can’t see it, you can’t be it. You can’t aspire to be anything unless you have exposure to it.
I came back to Ireland – the rural part after many years – , but there isn’t much change. There is a booming tech scene in Ireland but it’s focused in Dublin. I did a talk in my school. They had just as much potential as any kid in any school but they wouldn’t have had exposure.
We get a few young women. I am very interested in giving young women the potential for change. I am currently working with two young women. We’re giving them a 5 day immersion in working life in London. They spent yesterday speaking to entrepreneurs.They spent today at a PR Agency. Tomorrow we’re going to look at the fashion world. Then we’ll go to an ad agency. Thursday it’s time for a luxury goods company. And finally a retail trend project. It’s pretty intense. The goal is to get [these young women] in front of as many experts and as many inspiring women as possible and to expose them to career paths they wouldn’t have even been aware of.
ASTA: I wish there were more programmes like this! They would really make a difference for people who live in places where there is little exposure.
LOUISE: As I said earlier, I lucked into what I did. I hadn’t planned. That’s something that I’d like to pass on. I can only do my little part. I want it [See it, Be it] to be a very long-standing programme. So the girls from this year will be able to give a heads up to the people ten years down the line. The idea is to create a network of young women.
We can’t do everything for everybody but if we can make a difference for a few girls then I will be happy.
ASTA: [Do you see it going national?] Nationally?
LOUISE: Second day of the first programme haha. But if this was emulated across the country it would be fantastic. We might make a charitable organisation out of it. I’ve seen the girls blossom while they’re here. Every time they talk to someone new, they want to work there.
ASTA: I can really see it being emulated elsewhere. The same problem exists everywhere.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting out?
LOUISE: Grades are important but they are not the be all end all. Try to find something that you enjoy doing. Find two hobbies that you love: the first creative and makes you happy, the second that also makes you money. If you can combine those two, even better.
Pursue something that you want to do and that makes you happy, rather than doing what you believe society, your friends or family want you to do.
People’s careers develop and change and evolve over time. What you’re choosing to do today in ten years time could be very different. As long as you have drive and ambition to do anything you will succeed.
ASTA: OK so finally, what are three words that you live by?
LOUISE: Aspiration is one. Aspiring for something is really important. You need to aspire to be something. To get yourself going in that direction.As an entrepreneur I struggle every day with thinking whether or not I’m capable of being an entrepreneur. But you have to realise that yesterday may suck and today sucks but tomorrow will be a good day. Aspiration is important.
Determination. As an entrepreneur I need to get things done.
Empowerment. Being an entrepreneur – being a female entrepreneur in a man’s world can be hard. You need to be able to walk into a room, even if the room is full of 10 male investors, you need to have confidence that you know more about your industry and your company than anyone in the room.