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Diageo Brand Manager Suleni Pather launches global innovations

Diageo Brand Manager Suleni Pather launches global innovations

 June 22, 2021

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Suleni Pather joined Diageo as a Marketing Manager in South Africa, and today she works as Diageo's Malts Global Senior Brand Manager, based in the UK.

Her role involves launching new and exciting global innovations in the whisky category.

Motivated and excited about work

Suleni's experience in her role has been somewhat of a rollercoaster she says, in the best way. "I’ve now spent more time working from home during this pandemic than I ever did at the office as I only moved to the UK 8 months before it all unraveled. It has been challenging working on multiple complex projects remotely, but I’m very fortunate to work with great colleagues and agencies who have made it easier to approach each day feeling motivated and excited about the work I do. Fortunately, Diageo has also provided a plethora of tools and support to ensure that I can perform at my best from wherever I am situated."

Working as Malts Global Senior Brand Manager

In her current role, Suleni works across all of Diageo’s renowned single malts brands on various global innovation and renovation projects, predominantly in the luxury space. It is a very dynamic role as the luxury single malt scotch category continues to grow exponentially as does consumer demand for rare, high-aged, luxury whiskies.

Her role is to lead a variety of projects that deliver on our long-term ambition of being the leading luxury spirits company in the world. She works across iconic brands that have been built over centuries and have rich legacies – Singleton, Talisker and Lagavulin to name a few. "Excitingly, there are also the mysterious brands , some of which were new to me before taking on this role, that are steeped in intrigue and mysticism like the Pittyvaich ghost distillery or the celebrated Royal Lochnagar. No two days in this job are ever the same and that is the most fun part about it," attests Suleni.

Working behind behind the scenes on new products for consumers

Diageo saw Talisker launch the new 43-Year-Old Xpedition Oak: The Atlantic Challenge.

"I was lucky enough to have started on this project right from its inception as I was on the team that ideated this extraordinary whisky. Talisker 43-Year-Old Xpedition Oak: The Atlantic Challenge is a single malt scotch whisky that is the ultimate expression of Talisker. We set out to create a luxury whisky that epitomised the brands ruggedly elemental character and celebrated its rich heritage. As a whisky Made By The Sea, we knew we needed to add a nautical spirit of adventure and so we sent staves from casks across the ocean on a 3264 mile journey and then transported them back to Scotland where they were used in the whisky’s final finishing," explains Suleni.

The work behind the scenes was a mammoth task ensuring that the precious cargo, the staves, made it across the Atlantic and back to Scotland safely. It took many different teams, agencies and one solo sailor to make it happen but when they finally launched, it was one of the proudest and most rewarding points in Suleni's career with Diageo. "This whisky is the culmination of creativity, innovation, adventure, luxury and heritage and I’m so lucky to have played my part in it," says Suleni.

Suleni was involved in the Singleton of Dufftown 54-Year-Old launch

The Singleton of Dufftown 54-Year-Old is the second and final bottling in the Paragon of Time collection (the first was a 53-Year-Old released in 2019). "This project was a true privilege to work on as it is the oldest single malt ever released from Diageo and The Singleton. Not only is it a prestigious release, only 235 bottles globally and a feather in the Diageo cap, it was an absolute honour to work alongside our esteemed whisky specialists in Scotland to understand the history of this last remaining cask from 1966 and bring the story to life for consumers. From a design point of view, the product itself is nothing short of spectacular - the whisky is in a Baccarat crystal decanter housed in a wooden leather-lined display cabinet, a masterpiece in craftsmanship with a fitting price tag of almost £30,000," explains Suleni.

Launching innovation is exciting and challenging

What Suleni enjoys most in her work is the calibre of projects she works on at a global level that inspire her to want to be the best and deliver tangible results. "For someone as results oriented as me, it has been an incredible opportunity. I get to work with the best, most experienced and intelligent minds on some of the most iconic whisky brands in the world."

For Suleni, there are days that are challenging; she works long hours across different time zones, she has back-to-back zoom calls and looming deadlines, all with the impact of the pandemic notwithstanding. However, these pale in comparison to the overwhelming sense of accomplishment Suleni feels in getting these beautiful luxurious products in the hands of consumers through impactful marketing campaigns and experiences.

Innovations make a personal impact and affect business performance

Working on luxury innovation projects has motivated Suleni to continuously behave and think outside her comfort zone. Because the consumer landscape is so dynamic, it drives her to be adaptable, make bold choices, stay curious and always be well informed. Her role requires high levels of accountability, an entrepreneurial mindset and great interpersonal skills with multiple global stakeholders, all of which have reinforced her leadership skills and experience.

From a business performance perspective, innovation is critical to driving growth and cementing Diageo’s position as an industry leader. "To be the leaders in luxury is tantamount to continuing to deliver world class, highly desirable, buzzworthy innovation and I am extremely excited to be part of the team that delivers on that goal," Suleni concludes.

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