Bonjour à tous!
Being from Montreal, it was an absolute pleasure coming back to my beautiful city. After almost a month of living out of a suitcase, eating out at restaurants all the time (trust me, it gets old) and being bombarded with slide decks, we finally got the chance to unpack our clothes into drawers, use a stove and make an impact on the business.
Our first deep dive rotation had begun and we were slung into the world of Operations and Logistics at the LaSalle brewery here in Montreal. I’m lucky enough to have gone to French school almost all my life, therefore the transition into a majoritarily French work environment was very smooth. On the other hand, my colleagues faced an uphill challenge having to learn to communicate with some people who spoke little to no English. For that, I commend them. From what I can tell and what I have heard, they are all doing exceptionally well despite the slight language barriers. I greatly look forward to listening to their final presentations coming up in only a few weeks.
Personally, I was never very strong in Operations and Logistics. I took one Supply Chain course in University and can remember thinking how useless this course was to someone like myself majoring in Marketing. I seem pretty silly now, because here I am waist deep in ratios and excel sheets, crunching numbers on the daily trying to lower downtimes and increase efficiencies. To be exact, my personal project consists of helping my line manager with his Green Belt project (specific projects offered throughout ABI looking to close gaps in different areas). My task involves me observing and auditing the packaging line on our most complex packaging line: MC2, or Montreal Can Line 2. It is said to even possibly be the most complex line in all of North America. With the help of the operators, my manager and a large number of people around the office who have been more than generous by sharing their knowledge with me, I am looking to decrease the time it takes to change between can sizes and consequently increase the amount of cases we can produce 4 hours after such a change.
We are now at the start of our fifth of six weeks here in Montreal. Time definitely flies when you are having fun and working hard everyday. For me, the ends of the days and weeks have been rewarding. Furthermore, getting to spend some after-hour time in Montreal with my 6 fellow GMTs and showing them around my city has been amazing. On a personal note, playing tour guide and party planner has really given me a new appreciation of Montréal. Que je t’aime, Montréal!
With the hockey season upon us and the appearance of beautiful foliage, we now find ourselves two weeks away from finishing our short stint in Supply and heading out West for our Sales rotation. This experience in LaSalle, though not yet over of course, has been an extremely memorable and insightful one for us. Looking forward to some serious BBQ and Rocky Mountains out West.
À la prochaine,
Erik “Shock Top” Choquette
First off, check out Varun’s post for a great overview of the Baldwinsville brewery and the surrounding area of Syracuse, NY. Although you may not be able to point out Baldwinsville on a map, I assure you it is one of the most beautiful and unique areas I’ve ever seen, and I count myself lucky to have the opportunity to spend six weeks here in central New York. On top of that, Baldwinsville is the single most complex brewery in the ABI system (this includes well over 100 breweries around the world), which makes this experience all the more interesting.
As of this writing, Varun and I have completed four weeks of our six week brewery rotation. The time so far has been a whirlwind; we have spent some time with each department in the brewery learning a little about what everyone does to make Bville a truly world class brewery. Now that we have an overview of the different functions in the brewery, it’s time to dig into our projects and help the team here improve as much as possible in the short time that we have left. Things move fast here in the brewery – I have seen some of my solutions put into action already and I will have the opportunity to present some of my results to the VP of Supply, Pete Kraemer, in the coming weeks. Talk about high level exposure! It’s exciting to have the opportunity to contribute to high level projects right from the start and see the impact of my work right away.
Outside of the brewery, I’ve taken day trips to the Finger Lakes for a tour of wine and apple country, the Thousand Islands for a boat tour on the St. Lawrence river that goes into Canada and back, Cooperstown to visit the baseball Hall of Fame, Ithaca for hiking and waterfall adventures, and Penn State, my beloved alma mater, for a football weekend. I had no idea all that this area had to offer before I moved here, and discovering all the cool things to do around here has been a blast.
Our setup at the Syracuse United Way Chili Cook-off
Living and working in Montreal these days, which has been a unique and fun adventure. I’ve always known that Quebec was a different place, but it wasn’t till I started working here that I’ve come to see it firsthand.
We’ve been in Montreal for 4 weeks now with our supply rotation in the LeSalle Brasserie at 50 Labatt Ave (and yes that is also the name of our historic Labatt 50 beer). Life as a GMT has gotten more real since we arrived; we are no longer sitting through presentations and going through beer boot camp, or being pampered with beer pairings at the Bier Markt, but rather we have moved on to getting our hands dirty in the brewery and packaging plant.
It was something that all of us have been waiting for, the opportunity to start making an impact. After a weeks of being told how great we are, how we are going to be the future of the company, and how we can rise through the ranks in record time to be a VP, we had one more week of Quebec and Supply on-boarding before beginning on our first projects as GMTs.
Six of the seven of us have been working on the packaging side of supply while Richard has been working in utilities. My project has been focused on optimizing processes and decreasing downtime on one of/the most complex canning lines in the world, it’s for sure the most complex in our North American Zone and may be in the world (or at least ABI’s). So naturally after receiving the assignment I was pumped, excited, and nervous at the same time.
I’ve been working on the project for a 3 weeks now with two more weeks to go, and am making some good headway. However, being honest, there have been some major and minor setbacks with a steep learning curve; in particular converting my marketing brain to be more mechanically inclined; but this is exactly the challenge I came to AB InBev for.
Already in this first rotation, I feel myself being pushed in new directions and outside my comfort zone. It’s through these daily struggles that I ensure I live up to my values of never being complacent. This was something that I heard over and over again through the hiring process and I defiantly see it taking shape early on in my everyday work life.
One simple example of a challenge we’ve been faced with is working in a province where the business language isn’t one I can speak fluently. Only being able to say the basic greetings and simple phrases is one challenge that has been difficult, yet manageable. I definitely took sharing a common language in all my previous internships and jobs for granted. Working in supply we are working with a lot of unionized workers who speak little-to-no English and it’s made me truly appreciate being able to easily express my ideas and ask questions in a common language, and it will be something I remember as we move throughout our rotations.
As the final two weeks f supply finish up in Montreal I’m excited to see everyone’s presentations for their projects and get some quality feedback from the ManComm team.
I’m currently working at one of AB’s largest US breweries with Laura and Jim, and having a blast. Houston is what they call an “oversold brewery,” meaning that even when every line is running 24/7, 365, we can’t send out enough product to satisfy Texas. This creates a really exciting, fast-paced dynamic for the people down here, as the brewery is always trying to innovate with better ways to make our beer. I feel really lucky to be working in such an impressive place!
Coming from a non-engineering background (I majored in Economics and French), seeing the brewing and packaging processes is fascinating. Before I started this job, I never knew just how much work and care went into every bottle of Bud Light! There are hundreds of hard-working people managing each step of the process to make sure that our packages meet strict quality standards. If there is one thing I can tell you about this brewery, it is that the people truly care about our consumers’ experience with our brands. It is a pleasure working alongside them!
Measuring out hops for Budweiser in the hop room!
In addition, the employees here at the brewery aren’t just coworkers; they’re also friends. While I was initially a little bit nervous about meeting people here, everyone has welcomed us into this new environment with open arms. Our social calendar is always full of new activities with our coworkers, including attending Astros baseball games, watching “turtle racing” on Thursday nights at a local bar, and even “pedal parties” downtown. In a few weeks time, we’ll be road-tripping to Austin with some of the guys in the Brewery Development Program to attend a huge music festival called Austin City Limits. We’ll definitely be bringing some fresh beer down with us, too… I can’t wait!
Our “pedal party” and an Astros game!
That’s all for now, but I can’t wait to update y’all as we dive deeper into our supply rotation. Thanks so much for reading!
We are currently in the fourth week of our supply rotation at the Montreal brewery, and having the best time in one of Canada’s coolest cities! The Montreal brewery is one of the largest in Canada, with many different beers being brewed and packaged simultaneously. An extra challenge here has been the language barrier for most of us, but we welcomed the chance to seriously brush up on our French!
Our first week here was filled with detailed presentations and facility tours. Within no time, I became familiar with a variety of topics ranging from brewing to packaging to maintenance. By the end of the first week, we were itching to get our hands dirty. Thankfully, we were then given our individual projects and we met with our project mentors for the first time.
Having a blast on our first brewery tour.
Most of us were given projects related to increasing efficiency on the packaging lines. I’m working to reduce downtime on the labeller on one of the lines. My job is to pinpoint when most of the downtime occurs and what the primary causes are, as well as auditing and improving the current SOPs (standard operating procedures). I’ve been presented with an additional challenge, as the first time my line is running is not until the end of next week (with our presentations the week after)! Luckily, I love data analysis and number crunching, and have been looking at past data and trends that will hopefully correspond to what I see during my brief time on the line next week.
We were lucky enough to get invited to a number of extra events, including recruiting days and sales meetings. At the end of our first week, we assisted with the delivery of beer to all the outdoor stations at “First Fridays,” a giant food truck festival in Montreal on the first Friday of every month. We put in some serious hard work: unloading trucks, carrying cases, and inflating a giant Alexander Keith’s can! The beer on premise paired perfectly with the evening’s food truck meal (or meals in my case).
Representing Keith’s at First Fridays!
That’s about all for now. We’ve been working very hard and time has flown by. Luckily, the bar in the upstairs office is the perfect after-work destination!
The perfect place to grab a beer Thursday and Friday after work, just upstairs!
Greetings from Baldwinsville!
It’s been about three weeks since I started up here in the Baldwinsville Brewery in central New York. It is located about 25 minutes from Syracuse, NY. It has been a whirlwind of a time here and I have been able to learn a lot in just a short amount of time.
Baldwinsville, called Bville, is one of the most unique breweries in the entire ABI system because it is responsible for most of the Flavored Alcohol Beverages (FABs) and Ciders that ABI makes. They make over 70 different types of beer here! The factory used to belong to Schlitz, one of the original breweries in the USA, was bought in the 1980’s. Bville has gone through significant change to help handle the 4 million hectoliters of product that it is required to produce.
Brian and I on Global Be(er) Responsible Day!
I, personally, am working on the brewing side of the operation. My project is focused on reducing total extract loss (TEL), specifically during brand changes. During a brand change (ex. Switching from filling Budweiser to filling Lime-A-Rita in packaging), there are some opportunities for Bville to limit the amount of water and beer that is lost. I’m working with a team to help solve this problem and see how we can either reduce or reuse that lost liquid. Coming from an economics and international business background, I was pretty nervous to be coming into an extremely technical and engineering type role. Luckily everyone in Bville has been really great and extremely helpful. Understanding that I may not have the same technical background as others; people around here have taken the time to really educate me about the systems, while hearing my ideas and thought process from an economics and business viewpoint. It’s exciting to feel like you are being stretched and forced to grow in areas that you may not feel the most comfortable with.
Taste Panel everyday at 3!
Along with this, because I work on the brewing side, I am lucky enough to get to participate in the Brewmaster Taste Panel every single day at 3:00 pm. Every day at 3:00 pm, 5 – 7 members of the brewing team sit down, sip, and discuss every type of beer that was brewed in the brewery that day. It is amazing to learn and understand how each one of the ABI beers is crafted for a specific flavor, color, aroma, and profile. Everyone has such a passion for beer and crafting these products to the highest quality, it is humbling to learn from people who make these products every day. Plus, drinking beer every day isn’t a bad thing.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame – Cooperstown, NY
Outside of the brewery, I have been able to enjoy the surrounding area and explore upstate New York. This weekend I went to Cooperstown, NY, home of The Baseball Hall of Fame. As a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan (who just clinched a playoff berth!!), it was an trip that I had always wanted to take some time in my lifetime. The small city of Cooperstown is about an hour and a half away from Syracuse. Fellow roommate and GMT, Brian Bacik, and I took the drive through small towns and eventually found ourselves in a quaint town that was full of history. The Hall of Fame was an awe-inspiring experience. The gravity of The Hall just hits you as you see the marble columns and plaques of all the famous players that shaped America’s pastime.
The area around Bville is sports crazy! Everyone here loves Syracuse University and the Orange. They also play recreational sports all year around. After three weeks, I have already joined a volleyball league and a soccer league, playing with co-workers and their friends. It has been a really nice way of meeting people and getting to know others in the community! I only have a few more weekends here, but Notre Dame plays Syracuse on September 27th and the brewery is having a huge tailgate to watch the game, so looks like I already have plans! After this, I am off to Denver for my Wholesaler rotations. I’ll talk to you all then!
I have been in the Atlanta area working at the Cartersville brewery for the past 3 weeks. Ryan and Lyndsay are here with me for this rotation. We have enjoyed our apartment complex’s pool and gym and have been cooking ourselves dinner almost every night.
The Cartersville brewery is the newest of our twelve US breweries; because of this and the great team they have here, it is one of the most efficient. They make everything from Budweiser to Natural Light and more recently began producing the FMBs like Lime-a-Rita. The brewery received us very well and made a plan to show us every department in detail, in addition to an individual and a group project we have for the rotation. Up until now, we spent a full week in brewing and a week seeing the utilities and the people departments, and we will see operations (packaging) this week. Besides learning about each department’s team, process maps, KPIs and goals, we are spending time with operators and group managers to understand their day-today work.
My individual project has been to optimize the use of an enzyme used in the mashing process, one of the first steps in brewing. The enzyme is more efficient than its predecessor was and I have been testing mashes with different enzyme amounts, temperatures and boil lengths to find which yields the highest RDF (real degrees of fermentation). This has been a very exciting project, which has led me to learn the brewing process in detail. As a group, we are examining the feasibility of providing tours and a Beer Garden at the brewery through local market research, which has also been challenging and fun.
They put us to work - cleaning out the chip tanks!
I am checking in this month from gorgeous Williamsburg, Virginia. Pearly, Mariel and I will be here for the next few weeks soaking up as much information as we can about the supply side of the company. The Williamsburg brewery is known as the “Can Do” Brewery because it takes every challenge thrown its way head on. One of these challenges is brewing 48 different brands of beer, making brewing and packaging logistics very complex. We spent the past week learning the in and outs of the brewing process at the Williamsburg brewery. We did everything from joining in daily taste testing, led by brewmaster Dan Westmoreland, to cleaning out the beach wood chip tanks used to help perfect Budweiser and Bud Light.
All geared up to down & dirty in the chip tanks!!
We will spend the coming weeks taking a closer look at utilities, operations, and maintenance at the Williamsburg brewery. We will also be participating in Be(er) Responsible Day this Friday as well as helping out with various lean projects going on at the brewery. For future updates from the Williamsburg brewery, stay tuned for Mariel and Pearly’s posts coming early October!!
Hello to all of our Lager Blogger Readers!
It’s an exciting time for us GMTs, as we just kicked off our 2014 program! We started our program in the first week of August, with the 23 United States GMTs in St. Louis, and the 7 Canadian GMTs in Toronto for Country Induction. The next week, the Canadians joined the rest of us in St. Louis as we underwent Zone Induction, where we even got a two day course in Brewing Boot Camp, where we learned about different beer styles as well as getting to sample them!
All in a Day’s Work
The next week was absolutely crazy, but was definitely one of the most rewarding so far, as it was Global Induction. All 147 worldwide GMTs converged upon St. Louis as we learned about all facets of the global company, and had the opportunity to hear inspiring speeches from the leaders of our company, including our CEO, Carlos Brito! Not only did we have the awesome opportunity to learn from and interact with leaders ABInbev, but we also got to do some fun activities like going to a St. Louis Cardinals game and by far being the most energetic people in Busch Stadium. We also got the opportunity to volunteer for a local organization in St. Louis called operation food search, as well as doing a 147-person ice bucket challenge benefiting ALS research.
Ice Bucket Challenge ABI GMT 2014 from Oksana Obukhova on Vimeo.
Bringing People Together For A Better World
After all the GMTs departed St. Louis and headed back to their respective zones, the North American GMTs had one last week in St. Louis, where we learned about our IT and Business Services functions, known as IBS. Currently, we are all out in breweries across the US and Canada completing our supply rotations. Check out the location map on the right-hand column to see where we are! Make sure to zoom in on each location to see everyone that’s there! Be on the lookout for updates from the GMTs as they are in their supply rotations! Also, if you have any questions, feel free to shoot us a question either on this blog, or to our emails listed in each of our profiles! We would love to answer any questions for those of you considering applying for the GMT program!
Until next time,
Happy Hour saying goodbye to the Canadian GMT’s
GMT Paintball in what could be considered the worst weather ever (but so much fun!)