The following are transcripts of the capstone speeches given by the representatives of the GMT ‘13 class on May 29th, 2014:
Over the last 10 months, I have sacrificed a lot for this company. I have lost countless friends, because they continued to drink Molson products against my sternest warnings. I have stopped going to some of my favorite bars, because they refused, believe it or not, to switch their Coors Light line for Bud Light. And I even deceived my own grandfather and tricked him into taking a blind taste test to prove that he enjoyed Stella more than Heineken.
I have also spent the last 10 months living the GMT life, and I almost feel unworthy of the rollercoaster ride I have been fortunate enough to have been on since July. It is a privilege to stand in front of you all today, representing the GMT class of 2013, and especially my counterparts from up North. I must say that when I was doing my research for the interview process and read more and more about ZBB, I was half expecting to have to ride my bicycle to St. Louis, and pitch a tent under the St. Louis arch. It has been a life learning of mine, that the degree of satisfaction we derive from our experiences directly stems from the difference between our expectations and reality.
We were told we would learn a lot, but I was not expecting to feel like I just got my MBA in 10 months; We were told we would meet lots of important people, but I was not expecting to “have a casual lunch” with Luiz Edmond, our Canadian President Lisboa and even our Board of Directors; We were told we would tackle important projects, but I was not expecting to be briefed with my whole Calgary office on the introduction of a new 12 can Bud Light SKU that we Canadian GMTs recommended and implemented 2 months prior.
Needless to say, while my expectations were high, the Gap (to use some ABI lingo) between expectation & reality has made this experience something I struggle to put into words. And for those of you who know me, I am not a man who struggles to find words.
At the end of the day, I am standing here representing my Canadian counterparts so I would like to speak to that here. We Canadians may envy you American’s epic first positions, & locations in LA & Miami, but if there is anything you should envy of us Canucks in return, besides our expensed gas, it should be the bond we have forged amongst ourselves and what we have accomplished together, as Team Canada, in such a short period of time.
We spent months in breweries improving everything from the taste of Bud Light, to the efficiency of bottle lines and palletizers. We have ordered pizza to the Edmonton office at midnight, the day before our game-changing presentation. Spent hours locked in a room together in Montreal, building what is now the Corona army. And then we each went our separate ways and drove incremental business for our respective sales regions, distributing Corona surveys in the process.
In short, we have challenged each other, supported each other, and I truly believe motivated and inspired one another to achieve something more than we once thought possible of our individual selves. Being 4 people, in a country that is larger in geographical size and far more beautiful than the US, we have only had each other to fall back on. Taylor and I were placed a 3 and a half hour drive apart for our final projects, and have visited each other 12 times in 4 months (no exaggeration). Darren told me last week that his son asked him where “his friend Ben was” on Skype. Tina has been a huge source of support for me going through an interesting transition period into my first role. We have definitely had our differences – but I could not feel luckier to have gone through this journey with the 3 of you guys.
So on behalf of all of us, thank you to everyone who made this past 10 months possible – it has been an opportunity and experience I know we will never forget. Now, I will pass the reigns off to Sarah, to wrap-up this journey with a few more words.
I wasn’t valedictorian or student body president in high school or college, so I’ve never gotten to give a speech like this before. But I think that’s what’s important about this program, and about this group of individuals. At some point we all had a “why me?” moment, wondering how we got this opportunity…and that’s the very reason we were chosen to be part of this company’s future.
They all know, and I want you all to know, that I actually lobbied for the opportunity to be up here today, despite a crippling fear of public speaking. This moment is the first time in my life that I felt I had something valuable to say, and the first time I felt I could understand the sentiments of my peers and regurgitate them in an articulate manner. That’s a testament to how much we’ve all grown over the last ten months. I know I have, and I think you guys feel it too.
Surprisingly, I remember the first day of the program like it was yesterday. I arrived at the Drury, mother in tow, and ran into Alaina in the lobby. I remember telling my mom how nice she was. I remember that Ashley and I discovered we had the same purse and shared a love for practical fashion accessories. I remember showing up to the restaurant late where all these wonderful people were eating, and Alec getting my attention from the far end of the table just to say hello and ask me how I was doing. I remember dancing at Big Daddy’s and getting to know each other with little to no regard or understanding for the number of PowerPoints we were destined to sit through over the next few weeks. Most of all, I remember feeling right away that we all just fit. As my fellow GMT put so simply when I asked her what I would do without her: We’d survive, she said, but just less so.
From Day 1, they told us we would be sponges, yet we all still underestimated the knowledge we would gain and the exposure we would have. In ten months, I saw six breweries, four WODs, and two region offices, and I now have friends in all of them. Or at the very least, someone I could call with a market-specific question.
Aside from learning the ins and outs of the way this corporation works, and in addition to gaining an understanding of how to leverage each component to create a more profitable future, we’ve also walked away with intangibles: increased self awareness, a sharp ability to focus and to be patient, a deep sense of determination. These are skills we have been cultivating throughout our entire lives, and they’ve only gotten stronger.
Over time, we’ve come to take pride in our contributions to the greater good of this company; we’ve come to support each other, both professionally, and otherwise; we’ve stood in airports carrying all of our earthly possessions, fighting to keep our eyes open and frantically searching for WIFI; we’ve made homes in the unlikeliest of places, but have most often considered home to be more of a feeling than a location. For me, when we first started this grand exploration, well, I didn’t quite feel that I had a home. And oddly, even though we have become only more transient, I somehow feel as if I – as if we – have more of a home than ever before. In fact, we have dozens of them.
I know I speak for all of us when I say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all who facilitated this experience for us. A huge thank you to Jackie, who is the only reason we are all here today with our heads intact and shoes on both feet. Thank you for providing us with so many new homes. From this point forward, it will be our responsibility to help make a home for those who come after us, and to attempt to make a difference with all of the knowledge we have accrued.
Hello, thank you all for joining us today. My name is Alec Stirton and I am honored to speak to you on the behalf of the 2013 class of GMT’s.
10 months. That’s how long most of us sitting up here with there ridiculous hats on have been with the company. It’s almost unbelievable how quickly it flew by. It was definitely the fastest 10 months of my life. From bunking up in the Drury for orientation, to the time in breweries, our WOD rotations, time spent in the field and finally our 4 month project, it’s safe to say we covered a lot of ground.
During all that time, we had the incredible opportunity to work with the innovations department through our Build a Brand project, and that is what this group of people has elected me, or offered me up depending how you look at it, to speak to you about today.
The summer before we started we were informed about the opportunity we would have to literally build a brand from conception to completion for the most innovation company within the alcohol industry. I mean this is a company that has been around and innovating for almost 100 years before the television was created. This seemed like a fairly daunting task. Here we are fresh out of school and we are posed with creating the next bud light platinum, the next Lime-A-Rita. I think the team will back me up here that those are hard acts to follow.
So we spent our summer preparing for everything this program would throw at us, all the while this exciting reminder laid in the back of our thoughts. We get to BUILD a brand. I remember talking with another GMT, Ben Graziano over the summer and naively coming to the conclusion that this would be EASY. “Dude, we should absolutely make a stout! I can’t believe no one in the company has thought of that yet!!”
Come to find out that in fact there is an entire department of talented people working tirelessly on hundreds of innovations at any given time. And yes, the novel idea of adding a stout to our portfolio had already been covered. (Side note, I just want to say that the bare knuckle tap handle is one of the best of all time, and I’m looking for one for my kegerator if anyone has an extra one lying around).
So finally when we got here to St. Louis and had a chance to sit down with Pat and Val, they explained the parameters of our project. We were to create a brand based on key consumer insights that launched under one of our flagship brands. Also, we needed to keep in mind the specific consumer demographic, the entire brewing recipe and including costs, transportation of the product, the branding, the packaging, volume projections and a 1YP around activation, oh and by the way it had to sell 200,000 barrels. But we got to work.
Part of this experience was learning to work with a group of the most competitive people I have EVER met. At first we were hesitant to share ideas within our group, god forbid the other team (shout out team hops). But soon we found that everyone had different backgrounds grounded in difference experiences and perspectives that would help shape the end products we are so excited to share with you today. More than anything, we have been exposed to the framework of which this company operates within. We have identified key consumer insights that will help drive incremental growth while leveraging our company’s core strengths in brand recognition and scale. Ultimately it has been a great opportunity to learn and grow as new AB InBev employees.
As the past class of GMT’s warned us, this wouldn’t come easy, but sometimes you need to go through something yourself to really appreciate the another person’s advise. This process was in fact, a challenge.
On our team alone we went through the concepts of a coffee beer, a tea infused beer, a long island ice tea, a cucumber mint…thing, a beer cocktail, pre-prohibition cocktail, ginger beer, and at one point Sam even recommended we just pitch the idea of bottling water. What a big reveal that would have been huh?
But through the stage gate processes, the late night phone calls across multiple time zones and countries, we were able to complete this task of identifying 2 unique gaps in our vast portfolio and we have them here for you today. Obviously none of this would have been possible without the help and guidance of a large number of you in the room today. In particular, Colleen Lucas, Rod Reed, Dharma Tamm, Rob Naylor, Jim Efftink, Kate Neff, Pat and Val of course. This group has massive responsibility on their plate as is, and they took the time to go above and beyond and help us work towards our final product. For all your efforts, we sincerely thank you.
This industry is an ever changing one, now more than ever. With spirits and those annoying craft guys nipping at our heals, it is extremely important that we continue to innovate to build upon the historic success this company is known for.
It’s a tall task, but we truly do have the most driven, dedicated, and insightful group of employees here at ABI, as we learned through our work with all of you over these past 10 months. No one knows what the future holds for this company or for the future of the industry we work in, but to me that is the exciting part. We are the industry leaders and we have the reach, the brewing capabilities, the sales force, the marketing department unrivaled by anyone else. We have brands that are some of the most recognizable across all industries in the globe. With things like this on your side, it’s hard not to be excited about what the future will bring. This is an exciting time for the class of 2013 GMT’s and for the company as a whole. We look forward to the challenge of shaping the future of this company and thank you for the opportunity to work with all of you throughout the course of our build a brand project.
On behalf of all the GMT’s up here today, we thank you.