Employers are looking for evidence that you can work in lots of different situations and you've got a wide base of examples to tell them about

Photo of Greg Ford
Greg Ford
Regional Director Americas Travel Retail & Global Business Development Director - Pernod Ricard
BA History
Greg Ford tells us a little about his current role at Pernod Ricard, and how gaining working experience in a variety of sectors whilst at university helped him clarify what he wanted to do after he'd completed his studies.

A transcript of the video: 

Hi, my name is Greg Ford and I'm the Director of the travel retail business for the Americas, for the drinks company Pernod Ricard. 

I decided to study history at Sheffield for a number of reasons. First of all, the reputation of the tutors and the variety of learning on offer was obviously very attractive to me. But secondly, I visited the city when I was trying to figure out which university I wanted to study at. And it just felt really friendly and inclusive. And the course as well offered me a good balance of individual learning and classroom time, which was what I was after at that moment in my life.

In terms of why I ended up working in business and how I got into it, I undertook a wide variety of jobs throughout my teenage years. And also during university holidays. Everything from working in a Canadian furniture factory to working for the NHS, to working in retail. And I think it was that variety of experience that really helped me gain a perspective on what I wanted to do. During the university holidays, I worked for a well-known London wine merchant. And I really enjoyed interacting with customers. I enjoyed learning about products. And the industry in general was just really exciting to me and inspired me to consider it as a longer-term career. So like many students, I applied for a variety of graduate programmes during my final year at Sheffield. And I was lucky enough after going through lots of different processes to be accepted by Diageo, which is another big global drinks company. And I joined their sales graduate programme. So for me, my first job was actually driving around the pubs and bars of South Yorkshire, selling the company's portfolio of brands. And honestly, I've never looked back. It's, it's an amazing industry. I can't recommend the career highly enough.

In terms of the skills that I learned at Sheffield and during my history degree that helped me in business. I would say it's a real broad base because everything from the analytical, the research skills that you gain while studying history, as well as the writing and presentation skills that you need to brush up on during your, during your course. All of that is really fundamental to working in many different industries. And I'd say in business they're all highly applicable. So for me, I would say it's that broad base that has really helped me throughout my career.

In terms of my role today, my responsibilities. So I manage a team of marketing, sales, and finance professionals who are based around the world. So we have a team and in Florida we have some people in Brazil and in London. And the customers for, for me and for my team are the duty-free stores across North and South America, as well as the cruise lines, airlines, border stores. And so we have a really large and diverse market that we sell our drinks too. And I'm responsible for setting the commercial performance, the commercial strategy and delivering it obviously. But also looking at our brand strategy within the Americas region. So it's quite a diverse job. 

And in terms of the things that I would say most enjoyable, I mean, working in travel retail is a really, really exciting job on a day-to-day basis. The headlines that you wake up to every morning. So whether it's political situations, foreign exchange rate changes, obviously things like travel restrictions at the moment are so relevant to all of us. Have material impacts on our business. And it's a market that really encourages entrepreneurialism. And a can do attitude because it's just quite volatile and there's lots of different opportunities and challenges at any moment in time. And I would say that it's that also that multi market nature because we're working across loads of different countries. So whether we're trying to sell our scotch whiskeys to American travellers or Columbians or Brazilians, every different market and shopper, that you're trying to reach, presents its own unique set of challenges and opportunities. And also I would say that just the team in general that we work in is very diverse. We have loads of different nationalities working within the business. And so you get so many different perspectives and opinions and it's just, I think, a really inspirational place to be working on a day-to-day basis. 

If I was to give any advice to either prospective or current Sheffield history students. I'd say of course, study hard, but also make sure that you get the most out of the extra curricular opportunities that Sheffield has to offer. It's an amazing city. You've got some fantastic outdoor space on your doorstep. And when you look back that three or four years that you spend at the university just passes in the blink of an eye. So make the most of it. I would also recommend really seeking out as many opportunities to do some diverse work experience either before or during your studies. It's that blend of your your actual study and your work together, that becomes a real asset when you're trying to get a job. Because employers are looking for evidence that you can work in lots of different situations and you've got a wide base of examples to tell them about. When you're trying to persuade them that you're the right person for the job. So that would be my one last piece of advice.

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