Grad profile: ‘Working in Africa was an ambition’

Cathal Daly is country manager for Pernod Ricard covering two countries in Central Africa

Cathal Daly: ‘I had very mixed work experience before joining the programme ranging from a transition year mini-company selling calendars, to a summer job in a greenhouse in the Wicklow Mountains to an internship with a multinational bank in the IFSC.’  Photograph: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography/Courtesy of Jameson

Cathal Daly: ‘I had very mixed work experience before joining the programme ranging from a transition year mini-company selling calendars, to a summer job in a greenhouse in the Wicklow Mountains to an internship with a multinational bank in the IFSC.’ Photograph: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography/Courtesy of Jameson

 

Cathal Daly (26) was recruited for the Jameson International Graduate Programme in 2015 and is now the country manager for Pernod Ricard covering two countries in Central Africa – the Congo and Cameroon.

Tell us about yourself, where you’re from, what you studied in college?

“My current role is to develop brands such as Jameson in markets where the challenges we face, whether from our rivals or the business environment, are extremely high. I had very mixed work experience before joining the programme, ranging from a transition year mini-company selling calendars, to a summer job in a greenhouse in the Wicklow Mountains to an internship with a multinational bank in the IFSC. When I was preparing for the assessment centre with Jameson, I found that every single job, no matter how seemingly unrelated to the role, had contributed something to my CV and my application.”

How did you find out about the programme?

“During the UCD Career Fair in my final year of study, I visited the Jameson stand and got chatting with a graduate already on the Jameson International Graduate Programme. He was waiting on his work permit to come through for his move to Africa.

“Having spoken with the Jameson team at the career fair, the idea of being able to work anywhere in the world whilst representing an iconic Irish brand and having the support and development opportunities of Irish Distillers behind me was really appealing.”

What is the Irish Distillers graduate programme like?

“By the time I had finished the programme I had lived in three different countries, become fluent in French and gained experience working in some of the most challenging business environments in Africa. There is simply no other grad programme that offers an experience like this. It’s the best of both worlds in terms of what I wanted in a graduate job as it gives you the opportunity to gain international experience while getting excellent training and development, with great opportunities for career progression post-programme.”

Explain the kind of work experience you did – if any – and what the course entails.

“After spending my first year on the programme in France, my second year saw me set off for a completely different challenge – the hustle and bustle of West Africa. After a year based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I moved to Cameroon for my third and final year on the programme and took up a regional role developing the brand in Francophone markets (DR Congo, Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire).

“I studied international business and French in University College Dublin, which gave me the right foundations to start the role in France, but if you had told me when I graduated that I’d be given the chance to work on developing the brand in Africa, I would have jumped at the opportunity.”

What do you plan to work as after the programme and why?

“Working in Africa was an ambition of mine for a few years and the idea of being able to go and work in Africa for an Irish brand was a perfect mix. Working here can be extremely challenging, but the energy that you get from seeing the brand grow and develop is invigorating. There is huge potential for Jameson in Africa, and it is exciting to be part of that.”