Attracting new grads key to success at Asahi Beverages
Attracting, training and retaining talent in all areas of the business has been a growing concern as Australia’s brewing industry expands.
Asahi Beverages, which owns Carlton & United Breweries, has identified the issue and responded with industry-leading graduate programmes which have seen new a host of new graduates come on and stay on in the business.
This year the graduate programmes have expanded even further, with a new HR Graduates stream, and an expansion of the programme to New Zealand.
“Over these years we have seen great retention in graduates, most of whom have flourishing careers across all areas of our business, with many in leadership positions,” explained an Asahi Beverages spokesperson.
“In recognition of our programs, we have seen improved ranking in the Top 100 Graduate Employers in the past two years, and are now Ranked 62 and Top 3 Most Popular Retail & FMCG brands.”
Hands-on experience for graduates
One graduate who has gone through the pipeline and now works as brand manager for Asahi Super Dry is Monique Di Gregorio.
“Throughout high school I wasn’t a decisive kid who knew exactly what they wanted to do, and it’s a lot of pressure when you’re a teenager and choosing what you want to do with your life.”
Di Gregorio had intended to become a lawyer, but experiencing the legal profession’s work and lifestyle firsthand turned her in another direction, so she started applying to graduate programmes.
“I had an interest in the business side of things and how that worked, so I started looking at graduate programmes, and came across CUB. I thought FMCG would be fun and provide a behind-the-scenes look into things, so I was drawn to it, and was lucky enough to go through the interview process successfully.”
The interview process itself was holistic, she explained.
“It wasn’t just one interview and they judged you off that, it gave you a really good understanding of if you would want to work there and if they would want to work with you. I developed relationships with HR and the people I were interviewing with – it felt right.”
After graduating in 2019 and spending a year in the Asahi Beverages graduate programme, Di Gregorio was appointed first as assistant brand manager for Great Northern, before recently moving onto Asahi Super Dry – both flagship brands for the business.
But she wouldn’t have been prepared for it without having first gone through the Asahi Management Graduate programme.
“It was an involved process…it touched on every area of the business, it was a solid 10 months of rotations. Throughout all of it you were doing a project or shadowing someone in each function.”
In addition to spending time at the Yatala Brewery in Queensland, Di Gregorio worked in other functions throughout the business.
“[I also worked in] sustainability, procurement, finance functions, and spent some time on the road meeting customers seeing our products in-store, so you can stand each process the product goes through in the business, and then I had a marketing rotation which was where I found my passion.”
This holistic overview of the company meant that graduates could become properly embedded and understand multiple functions within the business, she said.
“I felt we were making a tangible impact on things and working through things. We were always part of the team we were working with [rather than on the outside], which was really exciting.
“We’ve all come from different backgrounds, and you’re out of your comfort zone, so the ability to think on your feet and problem solve was really helpful.
“On top of understanding the business, you’re not working in silos, you realise if you do this, you’re impacting this person here because of this. When things come up in my day-to-day job, I have people in each area who I’ve worked with and within the graduate cohort, so it’s created that network for me within the business.”
Asahi Beverages currently has five graduate programmes, where graduates can specialise include general management, data science, digital and technology and the supply chain, and there is also a summer internship.
“[This] underscores how successful the graduate programs have been since we launched them,” an Asahi Beverages spokesperson said.
“We have continued to expand the programs with our first HR Graduates due in 2023, along with expanding locations to New Zealand.”
Last year, it introduced Analytics and Technology Graduates, which took three graduates in, and they have delivered key projects and have all been appointed to permanent roles.
But that’s not to say it has been an easy process, and adaptability has been key to the evolution of the graduate programmes, especially over COVID.
“During the pandemic, the Graduate market shifted in many ways, including the ability to attract candidates virtually and running the Graduate programs remotely when our offices were closed,” the spokesperson explained.
“We’ve adapted our recruitment strategies to obtain the best candidates and our flexible approach has enabled our graduate programs to adapt to home working and our Supply Graduates work at sites under COVID Safe conditions.
“We have been excited to welcome our graduates back into the office environment for connection and exposure opportunities.”
As management teams at breweries will know, bringing in new talent is key especially in a challenging employment marketplace.
“The program sees many of our graduates successfully navigate careers where there are no boundaries to functional movements – we have many cross-functional graduates.
“Our Graduate program forms an integral part of our talent strategy and enables us to bring talent into entry level positions where they can make a huge impact and bring new thinking into our organisation.”