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GLAMOUR Women in Charge: Beatrice Marfleet

Image Supplied: Beatrice Marfleet
Image Supplied: Beatrice Marfleet

Beatrice is the first female Marketing Manager of Jameson, which is SA's best selling Irish Whiskey. South Africa is the second-largest market for Jameson (after the USA) globally - this just gives you an idea of how big it is in SA. It's the first time the brand has a female marketing manager, and whiskey in the past has always been dominated by men.

In this instalment of GLAMOUR: Women In Charge series Beatrice shares her career journey, working in a male-dominated industry, defining success and what we should teach young girls about marketing.

GLAMOUR: For people that don't know you, how would you describe yourself?

Beatrice: I would describe myself as an endlessly curious individual. I am fortunate to have grown up in juxtaposed worlds and as such I try to have a different perspective and a difference that I consider a privilege. I am an energetic, fun-loving and confident woman and have a passion for storytelling and creativity. My superpower is I am a great collaborator and I am able to make everyone feel included and important in a room. I believe in paying it forward and try and achieve this through the work that I do both in and out of the office.

G: What are some of your highlights working in the Marketing environment?

B: I have always loved storytelling and from a young age I realised the importance of it. Not just cultural fables and stories of my parents youth, but those of popular culture and innovation.

Marketing allows for me to tell stories; brand and consumer stories and bring these to life through multiple touch points that allows the consumer to be immersed with all their senses in the story.

Stories have the ability to break barriers and form connections between people, regardless of their backgrounds and with the globe fragmenting due to fear, it provides a platform to bring people together. Whether I am bringing new platforms to life for the brands; such as the Jameson month of comedy or reinvigorating tried and tested platforms, like the FIFA World Cup. The task of reaching audiences and connecting with consumers is something I’m very passionate about.

Image Supplied: Beatrice Marfleet

G: What should young girls be taught about marketing?

B: I think firstly, your difference and ‘slightly otherness’ is what brings diversity to the work that is being created and allows for the stories that are being told to connect with the consumer. Be very conscious of your behaviours, who you are connected to and where you get your information from, as these all build on your perspectives and how you put these into the work that you do. Diversity – and not in the politically correct sense – is brought about by expanding your perspectives, gathering accurate information and having informed opinions is what makes the difference between good and great work.

And secondly, regardless of how exciting the ideas are, the consumer must always come first. Just like people, consumers don’t like self-centred brands, they are looking for brands who have a healthy dose of curiosity and tell stories that are relevant to them. The world is set up at the moment for very few people that can create; the others watch, listen, read and consume. The role of the marketer is to enable the rest of the world to express their creativity with the brand as a platform that builds these opportunities.

G: Society has put a stereotype around whiskey and placed it as predominantly a male field, how has it transformed over the years?

B: I think looking back at the historical context of how whiskey was traditionally advertised it caused society to build certain perceptions on who whiskey was for. This was based with the little information that was had at the time and, subsequently caused society to build over time, their own stereotypes around whiskey which are now ingrained in our culture. In the past being a man, in a mahogany office smoking a cigar was considered aspirational and masculine, but the world (luckily!) has moved on from there and so the whiskey category has seen a revitalization in this regard.

This change is not only from the consumer, but behind the scenes too, there are more women in leadership and technical roles that help further drive the appeal for whiskey outside of the stereotypes. With my role (and other females in the whiskey world) I am able to share comprehensive knowledge on whiskey that helps to educate men and females and challenging the stereotype that whiskey is ‘for males’ which is something I truly enjoy.

One of the barriers women find in entering the whiskey category, is not so much that they are intimidated by whiskey, but rather by being told by men that that don’t know what they are doing, due to the multiple ways women tend to drink whiskey. One of the strategies that at Jameson we embarking on, is to reinforce the message that there is no such thing as a whiskey drinker and regardless of who you are, what you are or how you drink it, you create your own moment with whiskey and those around you.

Whiskey has the ability to connect people, it brings people together through their senses and creates a bridge between our background and experiences with the way in which it is enjoyed, it brings us to the same moment – even for just a few sips.

Image Supplied: Beatrice Marfleet

G: In your industry have you seen any more movement to gender equality in the workplace?

B: Absolutely! Over the past few years there has been definite movements and strides to get more gender equality in the workplace at all levels. It is definitely not there yet, but the intention and the drive can be felt in the air.

In order to further gender equality, and the broader diversity and inclusion topic, it is our responsibility as the minority to take responsibility for this. We cannot wait for HR policies to drive the change but rather we have the power to make these changes happen. We need to show up, do our best work and make sure that we are appreciated for that work. That won’t always be easy and there will be many challenges that prevent us from doing this, (and it is important to note that these challenges are both within ourselves and around us) but, we need to face these challenges with hope and a positive attitude and know that our contribution is helping to pave the way for those that come after us. This is how I believe equality in all aspects will happen.

G: Do you think to be a woman is to be an abolitionist?

B: I think that as women, we need to pave our own paths and futures based on what we believe in. We need to understand our power, not just for society but for ourselves. In understanding how our power can make a difference, we will then understand if and when we need to be an abolitionist. Intrinsically, the abolitionist was neither the officer nor the prisoner, but rather was someone who stood up for the ordinary citizen. Based on this belief on what it means to be an abolitionist and to be a woman, these two things are not one in the same. We have the power to make substantial changes in our own societies and the world and, depending on your purpose and the change you want to be in the world; this change can happen by both saying yes and by saying no.

To say yes to your true authentic self and accept your power. To say yes to paving the way for the future generations and to make space for those around us. At the same time however, we need to say no to those societal ills that harm us in every way. One woman cannot change all the ills in the world, but all the woman can. It is up to each of us to choose the path that we believe most in and create the most authentic impact that we can and as we do these things the sustainable change will come.

G: To you, what is the most beautiful thing about being a woman?

B: For me the most beautiful thing about being a woman it to be in full control of yourself – flaws and all. The reason why I say this is there is such power in a woman who is confident in herself – who believes and doubts in herself – but chooses to rise above the fear and be her true and authentic self. When a woman reaches that point I believe she is beautiful, because her beauty comes from within, she is infectious, she lights up the room and people are naturally gravitate towards her. The women I know who have reached this level also have this magical way of making me feel confident and beautiful.

Image Supplied: Beatrice Marfleet

G: What are some of the great possibilities about being a woman in the world right now, that may not be easy to see but you feel women should take full advantage of without being ashamed or afraid?

B: By being a warrior for change to what matters to you. I truly believe that we have had great women who have paved the way for us to really start making sustainable changes in our worlds. This for me covers everything, no just societal injustices but at home too, being present and aware parents to raise children who are loving and brave. By making sure that our elders are looked after.

G: How would you define success?

B: I don’t believe that success can be defined in one sentence, but has multiple components and like most things in life, is dependent on who and where you are in life. For me right now, success is doing your best and overcoming fear. It is learning something new, experiencing love, happiness and adventure every day.

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