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Ryan Robertson Director, Innovation and US Multicultural Marketing at DIAGEO

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By Taroue Brooks

Tell about your role and responsibilities with Diageo. 

At Diageo, I am Innovation Director and the Head of Multicultural Marketing.  My responsibilities include leading multicultural strategy and activation across the entire Diageo brand portfolio in North America to meaningfully engage consumers, and create unique and memorable brand experiences.  From an innovation standpoint, I develop and work with our team to deliver the innovation strategies, new product development ideas, and disruptive launch/cultural partnership plans for brands like Captain Morgan, Smirnoff, and IW Harper to name a few.

What does a normal day look like for you?

Not sure a “normal day” really exists. On any given day, I might be writing concepts for new product ideas for Captain Morgan, approving packaging designs, and/or talking to my team of cultural managers in different cities about how to efficiently and effectively get the most impact for our brands from events or activations. 

How do you find balance with such a busy career?

Interesting question… I think balance really comes from determining how to “fill your well,” which obviously is very personal and different for everyone.  For me, balance is about ensuring that I am not only fulfilled professionally but also personally outside of work.  That means carving out time to focus on things that bring me joy, like spending time with friends and family on a regular basis, traveling and exploring new places and ways of life, and finding an outlet for my creative energy and passions.  This has recently taken the form of producing independent web series content and serving as music supervisor on other independent series.  As a matter of fact, go check out “King Ester” webseries on the Issa Rae Presents Youtube channel. 

What keeps you motivated in such a competitive industry?

My motivation is fueled by the type of work that I spearhead for Diageo, which is a global leader in spirits and beer.  I am motivated that the company truly recognizes, understands and prioritizes the needs of multicultural consumers, and the value that we bring.  All too often, communities of color get ignored or glossed over from a priority or resource standpoint.  My company’s commitment to culturally connect and engage with multicultural consumers on their terms is highly motivating for me.  I think the more authentic and fearless we are in this pursuit, the more competitive advantage we gain.

What does success look like to you?

I think success is finding your purpose and achieving personal happiness.  For me, it’s continuing to grow and develop professionally, learn new things, expose myself to other cultures/ways of life, and achieve that balance that we discussed before.  These are the things that bring me happiness.  There’s a quote that I absolutely love: “Anything that costs you your happiness is too expensive.” I think that is so true… life is way too short to hold on to anything that doesn’t bring you joy.

What has been the most challenging thing you had to overcome?

I think earlier on in my career, I always tried to make everyone happy, even if it meant assimilating to the expected values, thoughts, and views of certain organizations.  As I’ve matured, I’ve realized that there’s much more value in being authentically and unapologetically me… unafraid to express viewpoints, even if it means being on an island or the only dissenting opinion in the room.  After all, who has ever influenced the world trying to be like it?

Where would you like to see your career in the next five years?

Who knows?  5 years seems like such a long time, especially realizing how swiftly culture, media, marketing, and the world are changing now.  Let’s just say, I would certainly like to still be in a marketing role that allows me to impact my community in a substantial and purposeful way.  We’ll just have to see what the universe has in store.

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About Diageo

Diageo is a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands across spirits and beer categories. These brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, JεB, Buchanan’s and Windsor whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness.

Diageo is a global company, and their products are sold in more than 180 countries around the world. The company is listed on both the London Stock Exchange (DGE) and the New York Stock Exchange (DEO).

Celebrating life, every day, everywhere.

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