Shadow a CEO Programme Report: Corporate spirits flow at Pernod Ricard
The three students selected to shadow Frantz Hotton, managing director of Pernod Ricard Hong Kong and Macau, for the Shadow a CEO Programme were given an open itinerary that Hotton felt more closely mirrored the flow of the business environment.
“We did not design specific meetings for the shadows, so that they could experience the real corporate world [and] our normal business cycle,” he explained.
This schedule provided the trio with an opportunity to learn about the hard work and organisation that goes into the drinks industry, and included a chance for them to visit some of the venues where the company’s famous products are enjoyed.
“I liked the visits to the distribution points of Pernod Ricard products, such as Wellcome and bars in Lan Kwai Fong,” said Dekki Lai Hui-wing, a final year student at the City University of Hong Kong who is studying a BBA programme in international business, focusing on Japanese business.
“I could understand more by talking to the staff there and even tasting the wine and spirits,” she added. “The half day visit to Macau and the media lunch were also very interesting.”
Lee Jun-kyu, currently in the penultimate year of a degree programme in information systems at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, particularly valued the opportunities to meet a range of senior managers in the company, and find out about their responsibilities.
“Each of them took us to their respective departments and gave us an abridged presentation about their department’s position and the roles they play in the firm,” Lee said.
“Although we were just there for three days, as in the company’s motto, everyone was very convivial.”
Hotton was keen to ensure that his shadows saw how a “relevant final outcome” was the product of each of the company’s departments.
“I wanted them to discover that it is all about teamwork and the CEO is just the ‘final step’,” he explained. “I also wanted them to realise that learning and development are elements in a continuous process, whose value is greater than that reflected simply in terms of promotions and salaries.”
Hotton considers these to be important lessons for his shadows to absorb, as they attempt to bridge the gap between their academic knowledge and personal abilities – and the skills they will need to compete in the business world. “They have brilliant ‘hardware’ with some ‘software’ still to be developed,” as he put it.
Their glimpse inside Pernod Ricard’s operation gave the three shadows plenty to think about.
“After the programme, I started to rethink what I really wanted to do,” Lai said. “I [now] wish to get onto the management trainee programme of a company from the retail industry, as I still want to explore different positions through job rotation.”
Lee is also reconsidering his plans to become an information systems auditor. “I love learning new things, such as languages and skills, meeting new people and being adventurous and spontaneous,” he said. “[As] I was advised in this programme, I will always strive to elevate my mind, stay passionate and be innovative.”
The third member of the group, Jenny Chan Mei-ching, recently graduated from Newcastle University in the UK, majoring in marketing. Chan found the sophistication of the Pernod Ricard operation an eye-opener.
“[Since] attending the programme, I feel even more motivated to progress in my career, to continue to work [at] furthering my experience, and to identify areas I need to grow and strengthen to achieve my goals,” she said.
Hotton was not surprised by the three millennials’ interest in the issue of work-life balance.
“This is a common concern, especially in our industry, with lots of events and ‘activations’ taking place during the evening, on weekends,” he noted. “However, I feel we were able to show how our employees overcome and invariably enjoy this variety in their work lives.”
He felt that he and his colleagues extended the corporate spirit of conviviality to Lai, Lee and Chan. “The whole company enjoyed having them on board for three days to demonstrate that Pernod Ricard Hong Kong and Macau is a great place to work.”
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Corporate spirits flow at Pernod.