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Diageos youngest trade sales director named in 35 under 35

Diageo's youngest trade sales director named in 35 under 35

 July 31, 2018

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Diageo's On Trade Sales Director, Melissa Yorke, has been named as one of Management Today’s 35 Under 35 females. A fantastic achievement! 

Melissa is the youngest On Trade Sales Director for Diageo GB and the youngest ever member of Diageo GB’s Executive leadership team, appointed at just 30 years old. Melissa is also the first female to take on this role. Following her inclusion in Management Today’s list of 35 Under 35 women in business. 

Leading sales for iconic brands

Melissa joined Diageo as On Trade Sales Director in Great Britain – a role that sees her lead Diageo’s ambition to create transformational growth in this channel. Upon joining, she was tasked with refining and rolling out a new national selling model for the independent free trade – which predominantly includes independent pubs in Great Britain.

"I am responsible for and manage a team of 215, spanning Diageo’s vast on trade network. It’s a real honour to lead the sales and route to market agenda for some of Britain’s most iconic brands, including Guinness and Smirnoff. I think I have one of the best jobs you could ever imagine!” says Melissa. 

Melissa graduated with a Law degree from Cambridge and made the decision that she wanted a commercial career, so she joined the commercial graduate scheme at Asda in 2009. On her first day Melissa was randomly assigned a buying category – Beers, Wines and Spirits so "I suppose I ‘fell’ into the beverage alcohol industry by chance, but it’s a category I have been immensely passionate about ever since," comments Melissa. 

"Asda was a fantastic environment in which to cut my teeth within the FMCG world," she says, and she was quickly promoted into buying her own range within four months. In 2011 Melissa was awarded Target Jobs UK Graduate employee of the year. 

Melissa has a hugely rewarding role at Diageo

“I get to lead an immensely talented team selling some of the world’s most iconic brands in the diverse GB on trade universe so I feel very lucky that every day is rewarding….and fun!"

The most rewarding part of Melissa's role is leading a team to create a legacy of change and being given the autonomy and freedom to do so, which is a hallmark of the Diageo culture. That legacy of change applies to both the commercial performance for the Diageo GB business and equally for leading the way for diverse talent to thrive within the sector.

Diversity is a key business growth enabler

Championing and harnessing the diversity that exists within the organisation is one of the key enablers that helps the business to grow.

"Most recently in the GB on trade team, we have reformatted our key decision-making forum to encompass all roles within the team in addition to our leadership team, to ensure diversity and breadth of ideas. The positive results have been dramatic and this is driving the performance of our team," explains Melissa. "In my opinion, the best way to champion diversity is to take action and see the results – that is what will inspire those around us."

Melissa's role sees her work collaboratively with industry organisations, such the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and MCA to drive greater change for both talent recruitment and development, while also fostering a more inclusive environment particularly within field sales and on trade outlets.

Advice to her sixteen-year-old self?

“Know yourself and be kind to yourself," says Melissa. 

"Getting to know who you are, what you bring in terms of your key strengths and being clear on what drives you (something you will later know as ‘leadership purpose’ and authenticity). They are some of the most powerful points of clarity I wish I had cracked sooner. I spent so much time and energy on being my own worst critic, focusing on the things I needed to better rather than reflecting on what I bring, what drives me and how use that for good.”

An astonishing contribution

Commenting on Melissa’s inclusion in the list, Charles Ireland, General Manager for Diageo GB, Ireland and France: 

“I am delighted to see Melissa included in Management Today’s 35 under 35 list ... In just a short space of time, Melissa has made an astonishing contribution to Diageo’s GB business and to the on-trade sector more broadly. Her tenacity and ambitious character have propelled her to early success in her career and I have no doubt it will continue to carry her onto even greater things. In a sector that is still heavily male-dominated, this is no mean feat. As well as excelling in her role, Melissa is also an inspiration to her peers. She plays an active role in the personal development and mentoring of many junior members of staff and she has embraced technology to promote a more inclusive environment for all field sales team members, enabling them to thrive.”

Join the Diageo team 

Talented women like Melissa thrive at Diageo and you could, too! Search and apply for your next role with Diageo and see where your career could take you!


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