'People email me a lot now asking what the secret was and how I got the job'


My Education Week:Hannah O’Leary, TCD graduate and Jameson brand ambassador based in New York


Today I worked with a local dive bar in New York to raise some money for Sandy flood victims. I donated a few Jameson hoodies and the bar auctioned them off for the Red Cross. Then I attended the Best Bloody Mary in the world competition in the world with the Absolut team and dropped in for a Red Breast cocktail in the best cocktail bar in the world, PDT.

What am I doing in New York judging Bloody Marys? I was born and bred in Dublin and studied Business, Economics and Social Studies in Trinity. During my final year at university my class was approached by all of the large accounting firms in Dublin and told they would be recruiting. I knew accounting was most definitely not for me as I had leaned towards all of the marketing and international business classes rather than the maths and finance side.

Then I heard about the Jameson Graduate Programme through an ex-graduate who now working full-time for the brand in Ireland. She told me she had been in Florida, looking after the Caribbean, in her first year and in London her second. I was sold and set my sights on this job, all my eggs in one basket so to speak; although this is not a strategy I would recommend!

I submitted my application and made it through, round by round, until I was offered the job. People email me a lot now, asking what the secret was and how I got the job, and I can honestly say there isn’t one.

The company won’t test you to see what your IQ is, or ask what kind of animal you would be if you could choose – another company actually asked me that question/ It just wants to know what you like, who you are and what you can bring to the table.

I’m now in my third year on the programme, living in New York and having the time of my life.


Launched Jameson Select Reserve to more than 400 bartenders in Connecticut. I travel quite a bit, but I love to see new places and this role has allowed me to visit so many places I never thought I would go. Everywhere from New Orleans for cocktail festivals to San Francisco for whiskey fests and then into the snowy and hopping bar scene of Minnesota. I’ve even managed to get a trip out to Las Vegas.

Of course, though, it’s always nice to return home and the company flies everyone home from the four corners of the earth for Christmas. I have plenty of visitors too and they bring me the things I love from home, such as teabags and McCambridge’s brown bread.


Flying out to LA to attend a two-day concert series that we are sponsoring. I’ll be educating our VIP guests about Jameson at the education station. The job also comes with a lot of perks and celebrity sightings. At the concert series we sponsored, we had Caleb Followil from Kings of Leon, four members of The Strokes, the Black Keys, and even Jonny Depp. There were also some Victoria’s Secret models there and the cast of Grey’s Anatomy.

I also met Kevin Spacey as he is really involved in a competition we have here that aims to find the next big director in the US. A pretty funny guy.


Still in LA having meetings with the US brand team on what future festivals and events we could potentially sponsor as well as brainstorming creative ideas for major events we have coming up.

One thing about being Irish in the US is that you are never short of someone to hang out with or talk to. Everyone wants to know your story. I’ve also made some great friendships over here with Americans as with some of the many Irish in New York. I live with an American girl, Kristen, who lived in Ireland for a few years, and it’s great to have her. She includes me in all the American traditions and I even had Thanksgiving with her family.

I’m always out and about having dinner or drinks with friends and there is always something great to do: a different flea market, concert or some other activity going on.

My social life is so busy right now that I sometimes have to remind myself to stay in and sleep. This is hard, though, as New York has such an energy as a city that I hate the feeling I’m missing out on something.

I meet so many Americans who have been to Ireland or are planning a trip. I always tell them about The Gathering and how this is the year to go back – Ireland is calling them home. They love that and a lot of them really do consider themselves Irish, even if they are second or third generation. I feel like I’m also an ambassador for Ireland as I’m forever sending emails about all the best bars in Dublin and sending them out to Galway for the craic.


Meeting a New York journalist to talk about the brand and our growth across the US. All the Americans want to know how Ireland is doing since the financial crisis. They’ve heard the horror stories but I tell them that while it’s tough on a lot of people, it’s great that Ireland has tackled the problem head-on and not made excuses. The fighting Irish have got ourselves out of worse situations and will weather this storm too. They always tell me that the Irish people they have met are the friendliest and nicest people in the world and they have no doubt we will get ourselves out the other end.

I have a great weekend ahead of me. I got some tickets to a basketball game – the Brooklyn Nets – on Friday night so I’ll go with a group of bartenders that I’m friends with. Then Saturday I plan on catching up with some friends over brunch, followed by heading back out to Brooklyn for a benefit concert by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It should be a pretty fantastic gig.

On Sunday I’m taking a flight down to Austin, Texas, and going to a Jameson Bartenders Ball there that night. Austin is on my hit list of places I really want to go and haven’t been yet so I’m flying in early and going to explore downtown Austin with a colleague there.

Then it’ll be back to New York to wrap everything up before I fly home for Christmas.

This week I was...

Listening to . . .

I saw AWOL Nation in concert . They were great.

Watching . . .

Modern Family, the award-winnning comedy

Reading . . .

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Online . . .

Browsing for Christmas presents

* The closing date for applications for the next Jameson Graduate Programme is January 4 th. Please visit thevitalingredient.ie/for more information.

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