Liquor Industry

Human Resource Management in Liquor Industry

Women executives flying high in Indian liquor industry

Feb-2012.India,MUMBAI: Women breaking the glass ceiling in financial services, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and media sectors are a common sight today. But the picture is fast evolving in traditionally male-dominated industries too. The Indian alcohol industry is for the first time seeing women manage the show in some companies, an unthinkable idea five or 10 years ago.

The world's largest liquor company, Diageo, has uncorked a bevy of women to run its Indian operations following a quiet organizational rejig in recent days. Twelve of the top 30 managers are women. Four women directors, including a deputy managing director, spearhead Diageo's ambitions in the local alcoholic beverages sector.

The company promoted former Tata Global Beverages executive Abanti Shankaranarayanan as deputy managing director and brought in Zanita Kajiji as its new marketing director. Kajiji, an expat of Indian origin, has been with Diageo's overseas operations and has been driving the company's powerful whiskey portfolio in Asia Pacific. These two, along with Mamta Sundara (legal) and Sarah Walton (HR), make up Diageo's women leadership under managing director Roland Abela in India.

Women are beginning to drive key responsibilities for many global drinks brands in the domestic market. Scotch maker William Grant & Sons cherrypicked Aparna Batra to head their India unit. Polly Yim has been in charge of finance at Moet Hennessy's Indian office, where women comprise 25% of the staff. At rival Pernod Ricard, women executives make up almost one-third of the brand and marketing team.

Lifestyle consumption has driven India's rapidly growing drinks industry where on-premise sales (through upmarket restaurants and high street lounges) account for much of the profitable market. MNCs like Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Bacardi and Beam have built their presence at the top end of the market, expanding the job market and asking female executives to lead the business vertical.

The broader alcobev sector has been attracting women from Nestle and Coca-Cola as it takes on the character of an FMCG business. Advertising and hospitality are the other favourite recruiting grounds.

Amit Nandkeolyar, assistant professor of organizational behaviour at Indian School of Business, said that as certain male-dominated industries become more socially inclusive, women go-getters would increasingly become visible. However, compared to the representation in other businesses, this sector with complex regulations and state interferences still has some way to go.