Stepping off the plane in St. Louis, the first thing that hit me was a wall of damp heat followed by a sharp jolt of excitement. After months of anticipation we were finally here, the home of Anheuser-Busch and the birthplace of the legendary Budweiser. If you don’t know the rich history of AB-Inbev (and how it relates to us at Labatt) I highly suggest looking into it, as it is a story steeped in heritage and tradition with its roots embedded deep in the soil of St. Louis.
The idea that St. Louis is built on Bud really hit home when we got to the “office” for our first day on the job. I put office in quotations because what we pulled up to was more similar to a sprawling campus then any of the offices you see on Bay Street in Toronto. Nestled somewhere between the beer garden and the bottling plant sits our North American Zone (NAZ) headquarters where, every day, some of the biggest players in the beer world walk the halls.
Okay that’s amazing, so what are we actually doing here? That was my first question once the awe at the sheer size of the operation wore off. As you’ll quickly learn if you work for Labatt, you are really thrown into the deep end and expected to learn to swim (or at least tread water). Less than 12 hours after touching down in St. Louis we were tossed directly into the market to learn about category management and merchandising. Between now and then it has been a whirlwind including but not limited to; creating and presenting a new product in under an hour, visiting the Budweiser Clydesdales at Warm Springs Ranch, and learning about sales, innovation and marketing from leaders in the company. Although it has been a week full of learning, a lot of the presentations were video conference style, so it was up to us to ensure we remained alert and focused to get the most out of them. It has also been a change from Toronto since we have been responsible for planning our own evening activities after work. Of course we’ve done this all alongside our 21 American counterparts and are incredibly lucky to have their guidance and friendship in this crazy journey.
Another perk of being in St. Louis is how close it is to so many other great cities, like Nashville. We took the opportunity to drive down for a weekend and it was a truly incredible experience in a city like no other. After getting to know my fellow GMTs, I can confidently say that the next 8 months will not only be a fantastic learning experience but also a ton of fun. Stay tuned for our next adventure, Global Week!