Q&A with Ellen Leonard Bates from Diageo

Name: Ellen Leonard Bates

Occupation & Company: Strategic Accounts Manager at Diageo Ireland

Tell me about your current role?

As strategic accounts manager, I look after the commercial elements involved with pub group accounts in the on-trade (on-premise). It is a customer-facing role across spirits and beer.

I am also involved from a commercial perspective with Stadia and events, so it’s a busy time of year with sports and concerts in full swing. It’s a really interesting mix of work. I am really engaged in my role and love the drinks industry. 

How did you first get into the drinks industry? 

My first role in the drinks industry was working on beer promotions over 15 years ago. I was drawn in by the buzz of the on-trade. I was hooked! Since then, I have worked across beer, wine, Champagne and spirit portfolios. I worked in brand ambassador and brand activation roles for beer, spirits and champagne brands and then moved into sales and commercial roles. I love the industry.

What is your favourite part about working in the industry?

There is a lot of history, culture and heritage intertwined with the “Irish pub” it’s more than a place people go to have a drink.

Personally, I love meeting new people out and about in the trade. I love the passion that people in hospitality have for what they do. Be it bar tenders, owners or managers, suppliers, or producers. The resilience people have shown over the past two years is inspiring. Everyone has had to adapt and become quite creative to attract and retain consumers since reopening. Working in it, it’s a really enjoyable and fun industry.

We’re meeting up for a wee drink after work – what are you having?

If it’s after work, a good pint of Guinness or if I’m having something light, maybe a Ketel One peach and orange blossom with soda water and a slice of orange.

You can only have one drink for the rest of your life; what’s in your glass?

Whiskey sour, please!

It’s Saturday night, what restaurant are you going to?

I live in Dublin, and I recently went to the launch of Bovinity on Capel St. The food was delicious. I would like to go back there or across the road, Krewe is a great spot too. If I was heading over the south side of the city it would be Ukiyo for sushi or Sole for their gorgeous seafood. 

Is there a bucket list drink you want to try or a dream drinks destination you’d love to visit?

I would like to do a Speyside Scotch whisky tour or head farther a field to the bourbon trail in Kentucky. I am intrigued by the tequila production process, so I would love to go to Mexico and experience that first hand. 

The most memorable experience of your career?

I have had some fantastic adventures over the years thanks to my work roles. Many brilliant opportunities to visit distilleries and brand home places around the world. One of the most memorable experiences was touring the  Champagne cellars under Avenue de Champagne. Unforgettable.

One thing you’d like to see more of in the drinks industry?

Currently, I would like to see support for outlets hiring and training staff. This is a major challenge at the moment in Ireland, especially in the hospitality trade.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a career in the industry?

Go for it! There has never been a better time to get into the industry. It is so dynamic, you will never be bored.

Think about what part of the industry you would like to work in and reach out to those in that area. People are generally really happy to share knowledge and experience.

You can follow Ellen’s drinks journey on LinkedIn & Instagram below