Named “Top 30 Under 30” by PR in Canada, Amandine Robin is making her mark at Pernod Ricard, the worldwide co-leader in the Wines & Spirits sector with brands such as Absolut, Jameson, Chivas, and J.P. Wiser’s. In the span of just a few years, she’s rocketed to the top of the corporate ladder, recently promoted to Senior Vice-President of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for Pernod Ricard USA. She shares some of the innovative ideas that have led to career success at Corby Spirit and Wine, the Canadian affiliate of Pernod Ricard.
For Amandine Robin, wine has always been in her blood.
“I was born and raised in Reims in the Champagne region,” says Robin. “So I was living five minutes away from the G.H. Mumm Champagne — one of Pernod Ricard’s brands.”
But despite growing up near France’s vineyards, Robin fell into in the wine and spirits industry. She actually worked in the financial and legal sectors for several years, before stumbling upon a Corby’s job advert for a Communications Manager.
“For me, it was the dream job,” she says. “To be working in communications and with a company [linked] to a region where I was raised in and loved.”
She applied and won the position. Since joining the Pernod Ricard family, Robin has distilled a culture of innovation into the company, and transformed how the company communicates. It has led to a big boost in employee engagement and corporate brand awareness, multiple award wins, and personal promotions — most recently to Senior Vice-President of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for Pernod Ricard USA, the group’s biggest affiliate.
“For me, it was the dream job….To be working in communications and with a company [linked] to a region where I was raised in and loved.”
“We imagine corporate communication as writing speeches for executives or writing press releases,” she says. “That’s not at all how I see it. It’s about being completely transparent, working together, and creating excitement inside and outside the company.”
Robin credits the success to an executive team that’s “open to trying things differently” and values collaboration. While novelty may scare some companies, Corby welcomed her fresh ideas and experimentation with new approaches, especially in tough financial times. With this “carte blanche” in hand, Robin has spearheaded some cutting-edge initiatives that are now reaping major rewards for the company.
“Our tagline globally is ‘creators of conviviality,’” says Robin. “That’s one aspect that I really love about the company: the emphasis on the people and the conviviality. It’s about ‘what do we give to the world?’”
One such initiative is Corby’s Den, a corporate challenge based on CBC’s Dragons’ Den TV series that sees top management travel across the country to hear employees present their best and most innovative business ideas.
“That’s one aspect that I really love about the company: the emphasis on the people and the conviviality. It’s about ‘what do we give to the world?’”
“Employees were put in teams and had 10 minutes to pitch an idea to our dragons,” she says. “The size of the idea didn’t matter — it could be something small that doesn’t cost anything or a big national idea to change the system.”
At the end, the “dragons” selected a handful of winning ideas to implement across the company. What was most surprising? Participants loved the “Corby’s Den” experience, even more than the company conferences held overseas.
“They liked the chance to see the executive team in a smaller format and share their ideas,” says Robin. “It was great from a business point of view, and the executive team discovered talents that they might not see from Head Office.”
Robin also launched “I Thank,” a corporate program to boost the company’s non-financial employee recognition. Based on gamification principles, employees can virtually award each other achievement badges with a personal congratulatory note, which are visible online to the entire company. Employees move up the levels of recognition as they accumulate badges, with those reaching gold receiving an extra week of vacation and $1000 donation to a charity of their choice.
“It’s a created a culture of recognition,” says Robin. “Within one year, the ratings of non-financial recognition increased by 25 per cent. And the program cost zero dollars!”
Under Robin’s leadership, Corby is also winning awards for corporate social responsibility, such as a Road Safety Achievement Award from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation for the Corby Safe Rides program. This annual partnership with the Toronto Transit Commission promotes responsible drinking and provides free public transit on New Year’s Eve — ensuring that everyone has a safe ride home.
“Being a socially responsible company drives employee engagement,” says Robin. “We’re the department distilling the culture — both inside and outside the company.”
As for Robin, she’s eager to keep up the momentum in her new role and continue “making a difference” inside and outside of the company.
“What I’m the most proud of is changing how we do corporate communication,” says Robin. “The pride of our employee engagement and being excited to come to work every day. That’s what I find rewarding.”