Welcome back to The Shout’s Industry Women Spotlight Series. In this series, we share the stories of women from across the industry, raising awareness for the challenges they face and passing on their advice for the next generation.
Through these regular profiles, we aim to hero the visibility and inspiration that is common on International Women’s Day, supporting the voices of women in different sectors of the liquor and hospitality industry. It’s important these conversations happen more frequently than just once a year.
This time we’re bringing you the story of Amy Greig, Queensland Sales Manager and foundation employee of seltzer brand Hard Fizz, who has built her career from the ground up through sheer passion and determination.
Over the course of Greig’s career journey, she has worked in pretty much every facet of the hospitality industry. Over the years, after leaving high school at the age of 16, she has held roles in licensed cafes and restaurants, including fine dining venues; pubs and bars, including roles such as flair bartending and running gaming rooms; and even on super yachts.
Greig said these roles have taken her all around Australia, noting: “Literally every single facet of the hospitality game you can think of, I’ve probably worked in it.”
The transition from hospitality to the supply side of the industry came when Greig was working in a hotel in Brisbane, having worked her way up to an operations role. Her manager, who was a mentor to her, told Greig that her talents were wasted on the role, and encouraged her to think of what she wanted to do next.
“At that time, I was managing all of the sales reps of different areas, both alcohol and food, and doing promotional programs with them as part of my operational role. I knew I really liked meeting with the reps, doing all of the planning and negotiating for promotions, and I liked growing their brands with them. So I thought being a rep would be a great job for me,” Greig said.
Greig thought about the question – if you could be a rep for any company, who would it be? And what came to mind was one of the biggest alcohol businesses in the world, Diageo.
Although she had a wealth of experience across the hospitality sector, it certainly wouldn’t be easy to land such a job. But Greig recognised this from the start, and became ultra focused on upskilling herself to be a competitive applicant.
Utilising one of her best existing skills of networking, Greig found a friend of a friend that was already a sales rep at Diageo, and met with them to discuss what the reality of the job was, and what skills she needed to gain to be successful. From there, she hired a private tutor to learn business maths, and spent hours studying the brands of the portfolio, falling in love with the romance of the production of spirits along the way.
Ultimately, this dedication to her goals is what got Greig her foot in the door in an entry level position. And it’s her dedication and passion for her job and the brands she works for that has led her career development in the eight years since. She said making a name for herself as a really good sales rep has opened up a number of opportunities, both in being headhunted for another smaller spirits company and climbing internally while there.
Appreciating a people-focused industry
As one of the very first employees of Hard Fizz when it launched in 2020, Greig has had a major hand in helping launch the brand from the ground up. Her business card describes her title as “sales and purveyor of good times”, something which has led her to be involved in several aspects of the company in the past two years.
What Greig loves about this and the industry in general is the people.
“This industry is full of really rich and colourful characters. I love the fact that you get to talk to people every day, look at their business and see how you can help them achieve what they need,” Greig said.
“You get to really apply that high energy and that entrepreneurial attitude to help people, and also have fun with it.
“Something that I have always really prided myself on is not just being an expert on my product, but the category and the industry as well. When you have all this knowledge, you can help your customers on various things and they can see you more as a quality business partner, not just someone there to sell to them… Everyone wants to help people, and helping people makes you feel good.”
Part of Greig’s roles over the years has been to help people internally at her companies too, with training roles. One of her proudest professional moments has been centred around this, when one of her newest recruits stood up at a conference and said how welcomed and prepared he felt in his role, thanks to Greig’s training.
“He said he now knew he had made the right choice to come into this industry (as he’d come from outside). To have your staff say that what you’ve taught them has helped them want to be part of this industry and love it as much as you do, that is a really special moment,” Greig said.
Another highlight for Greig over her career has been the way she has been able to connect with different brands in different ways, especially those that she’s had a hand in launching, like Hard Fizz.
“Before I started with them, the product didn’t exist yet… I had come from working for heritage and global brands, some which have existed for hundreds of years. So being part of Hard Fizz was this exciting opportunity to be part of something brand new to the world, and it was the opportunity in my career for me to put my mark on something,” Greig said.
“I have helped launch 37 brands in Australia in my career, but this is a different experience altogether. It’s like a part of me, and that’s just been incredible.”
Greig said she has certainly faced many challenges in her professional liquor industry life over the year, as she expected would be the case for any industry. But pleasingly, she said she has noticed some positive change in her sector over the eight years she has been there.
“The biggest change is the shift that started maybe three years ago, where there is a lot more inclusiveness and a lot more diversity coming through,” Greig said.
“I think there’s a great opportunity for this industry to increase its diversity – it’s already started to do it, and it’s wonderful to see that change over the last decade. The critical thing is that the industry is now providing opportunity where it probably hadn’t before.”
This is not just relevant for gender diversity, but also general diversity in other areas, including age and education background. Greig suggested that a way to increase this type of diversity in the industry was to be more flexible when it came to different opportunities, to give people the chance to prove what they can do and also to understand the need to accommodate different working schedules.
“I think there is a great opportunity for more flexibility in the industry… for companies to attract diversity they have to encourage it internally,” Greig said.
Another element that Greig touched on was the importance of helping pull others up the ladder after you’ve climbed it. This is why she has helped a range of other women over the last six years to meet their goals and move from hospitality into the more corporate side of the liquor industry, by sharing her knowledge about what it takes to be successful.
Be passionate and persistent
Reflecting on how she got where she is today in her career, Greig definitely thanks her persistence, which has allowed her to upskill and educate herself, and develop a genuine passion for the industry, its people and the brands she works for. This is the basis of Greig’s biggest piece of advice for industry women seeking success.
“Be passionate about what you do – passion attracts passion and people notice it. I’ve been headhunted and offered so many roles by external companies purely because I’m passionate about what I do and I love it,” Greig said.
“I learned everything there is to learn about the area I wanted to get into, and that’s attractive, it’s magnetic, because passion breeds passion.
“If you’re trying to get into an industry, or get a job with a certain distillery or brewery whose product you love, go and learn about it, ask lots of questions. Interested is interesting – if you show genuine interest and that you care about whatever it is you are pursuing, that will get you far.”
But Greig also said there is no real secret recipe to climbing a career ladder, and that if your approach doesn’t work the first time, it’s important to not give up.
“If you keep going, keep being positive and keep learning, you’ll keep adding value and then eventually you’ll get there,” she said.
One of the key things Greig noted as being important in maintaining both a passion and persistence along the way includes focusing on the human connections. One of her first mentors told her that ‘it’s important to treat the janitor the same way you treat the CEO, because at the end of the day, when you’re locked out, the janitor is the one with the keys.’
This is something that Greig tells people herself these days, noting that the ability to make a human connection is invaluable in this industry. This includes finding someone who can mentor you too.
Greig said: “Everyone that I know that has been successful in this industry has a quality mentor, where their priority is to help you grow. You can’t put a price on that.”