What’s new, you ask?

…my zodiac sign and my next rotation assignment!

 “According to astrological principles, the Sun travels from the constellation Scorpius and goes directly into the sign of Sagittarius, but due to the constant motion of the cosmos, the Sun enters, for a few days of the year, the star constellation ‘Orpheicus’ before entering Sagittarius from Scorpius, thus creating astrologically the birth of a thirteenth sign of the Zodiac…”

It seems just a smidge ironic that the exact day I found out where my next 4-month rotation is going to be was, in fact, the same day I found out that my astrological symbol for the past 23 years is no longer mine!  So as soon I felt that I had regained some sense of certainty and stability (as I’ve been waiting since December to find out the million dollar question, which U.S. city is the next stop) – astrologists who have apparently been asleep on the job for the last 2,000 years thought it would be a good time to break the big news and demonstrate their inattention to, let’s call just say, “the details.”  So a Sagittarius no more, according to the Minnesota Planetarium Society, I am now an “Orpheicus”.  This left me with no choice but sift through the list of Orpheicus’ most complimentary characteristics/tendencies, affirm those that are true, and conclude that “yes, I must have been previously misidentified.”  Ha – kidding.

Over the last couple months, I’ve accepted the fact that certainty and stability are not words that describe my life or my job (well to clarify, the latter is stable in the sense that I don’t plan on being fired anytime soon haha, but not in the sense that I know where I’m going to be living and working) – and while at times that can be really stressful trying to figure it all out – I’ve happily resigned from trying to figure it out and necessarily have “a plan” – in the traditional sense of the word.

Instead, my new plan is to not have “a plan;” I’m ready to embrace this odd-sounding new Zodiac sign, settle into St Louis, and then move to LA for a month to implement my project!! The assignment sounds incredible and I’m super excited to get started on it after the Zone Induction ends (which is what I’m doing this month in STL with all of the other U.S. and Canadian GMTs – learning more about our brand teams, innovative products in the pipeline, zone support functions, and prepping for an international test on brewing and distilling (400 pages worth!)  

So just a little update as to what I’ve been up to + where I’ll be for the next couple of months!

P.s. Coolest thing about this week: seeing ALL of the Super Bowl commercials. Hardest thing about my week: not being able to tell anyone what they are!! And you thought the CIA was top-secret…  : )

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An ABI-Infused Tribute to Twenty-Ten

Despite it being well into the third full week of January, this post is a short tribute to 2010 – a year in which I experienced some momentous and life-changing experiences. But before I get on an overly sentimental tangent, I want to shortly recap some of the amazing experiences I’ve had over the last 6 months – which is actually the first 6 months of a new phase of my life which I call “being in the real world.” That’s right, I’m referring to my new life, outside the comfy confines of the “Princeton Bubble” – one in which I’m unfortunately grandfathered into the waking up early, employed, tax-paying portion of the populace… which I’m convinced is actually shrinking  haha – but that’s just a personal view not relevant to my blog!  While I realize that my previous posts, which chronicle my experience as a GMT and some funny things that have happened along the way, were meant to give this year’s applicants a better idea of what they could be getting into, the 2011 class has already been hired (CONGRATS!!!), so hopefully this will give them a taste of how I feel about the program now that I’m half-way through training + what life has in store for them after graduation. So with no further long-winded ado, here are some of my “highlights with ABI” since July 2010:

  1. Meeting the ABI Board of Directors

It was quite an incredible experience to be surrounded by individuals whose net worth I am fairly certain is greater than the GDP of a small African county – and be able to talk with them about the economy, our company, their experiences. They were incredibly insightful and not surprisingly business savvy – but perhaps more surprisingly, so down-to-earth. It was amazing to learn just how active they are in the leadership of the company, as each one takes a real, hands-on approach to management. These guys are not just board members; they truly act as owners. One of my favorite board members, who I had the privilege of sitting next to during brunch, was one of the cutest old men I’d ever seen. I wanted to hug him. Obviously didn’t – but that was my initial feeling (haha). He was so happy, cheery, and the most vivacious seventy-something year old man I’ve ever had the privilege of speaking to. I found out that he flew his own plane to St. Louis – these guys don’t do business. They bring the business.

2. Delivering beer in Harvard Square

    This was one of my favorite days during my commercial rotation in Boston – a kind of experience that I wish more people would have in whichever industry they work. I got the real “behind the scenes” deal shadowing Joe and Mike, two of our union delivery guys. I loved rolling up by sleeves and wheeling 6-7 stacked cases per load over curbs and into small Boston pubs. They said I was a “natural” (shout out to Jason, my lift coach while at Princeton to whom I partially attribute my surprising strength-to-size ratio) and I gained a whole new respect for what they do. It also made me realize how something like the new logistical technology/software that we’re trying to implement ripples down to affect the individuals that actually carry out the day to day labor. It’s important not to forget how corporate strategy sometimes fails to be implemented as effectively as I could be – and to solicit feedback from people in the field when possible. So thank you, Joe and Mike – for helping fill in the gaps with some hands-on lessons that I missed being in a classroom.

3. Spying on… I mean watching a Bruins practice!  I was shadowing one of the WOD’s (AB-owned distributor) merchandisers one day and ended up having to deliver a neon to Legends, the club in the TD Garden Center. Lucky for me, the Bruins were in the middle of their pre-game practice before they played the raptors. Photo evidence – check.

4. Traveling/living around the country   

I have relocated three times in my first 6 months with AB. Some of my travels (or various lengths, from one day to 6 weeks) have included:

  • Chicago, IL
  • Nashua, NH
  • Boston, MA
  • Providence/Cranston, RI
  • Merrimack, NH
  • St Louis, MO

While it’s been incredible being able to travel to this much, I can’t think of a more challenging scenario for a 23-year old. As if it’s not hard enough to get acclimated to post-college life – imagine having to repeatedly do this… while carrying your life in tow – trying to fit everything in about four (okay, it might have been five my last trip) suitcases. Would I trade places with any of my other friends right now I? While I miss them all like crazy, no.  Although don’t ask me that while I’m trying to travel and carry all those bags by myself! ; )

5. Boston Common Magazine Party (AB-sponsored) Checking out new Porsches, drinking Stella and Greygoose cocktails, and schmoozing with Boston’s “it” crowd. I have a tough life, example # 56.

6. Learning how to weld.  Leaky pipe? Got you covered.

7. Making some amazing friends

AB is a company of amazing people. Although I’ve only been with here officially working for the 6 months, I realize how lucky I am to have had exposure to so many people in different regions and departments. I’ve met hundreds of people – and have yet to be disappointed. All of us in this first inaugural class of GMT-ers have been through a lot together. We immediately formed a tight bond after living together in STL for 5 weeks this summer – and have been friends and advocates for each other since then. I’ve found a group of people who I not only respect as colleagues – but people with whom I plan on staying friends with for life.

Okay, better end this before the sentimentality sneaks back in here…  

Happy New Year!  Health, happiness, and the continuation of responsible consumption of our products in 2011!

Love,  newbeerchick

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“I’m better at talking than skiing…”

While I may have neglected to update my blog to reflect the “adventures” of my commercial rotation here in Boston – and there are quite a few – it can only be a testament to how incredible of a time I’ve had: busy, fast-paced environment and honestly SO much fun. And although the blogging has ‘tapered off’ (to put it kindly), I have been unabashedly posting pictures from Celtics and Bruins games – letting all my Facebook friends know that I’m still alive, and showcasing my beer-star lifestyle… and why this job was competitive to get!  

Since I firmly believe that giving my commercial rotation the air time it deserves is far too big of a feat for one post, I would just like to leave my loyal and *growing readership (or so my wordpress.com e-mails tell me to induce more blogging haha) with a short story about something that happened yesterday on my ski trip to Vermont. (It is my hope that this anecdote will not only entertain, but partially highlight the skill set that I’ve been sharpening over the last two months of my commercial rotation (sales and marketing) – and thus be a cross-functional, albeit late, post.)

After a fantastic day of skiing (and surviving being tricked into skiing down a black diamond at Okemo), my friends and I decided to end the day with a libation (or two) at the local watering hole. Soon after our arrival, I noticed that a smaller competitive craft brewery was holding a weekly promotion. So I just kind of listened and observed as I enjoyed my ice-“chill-chamber”-cold Bud Light.

After awhile (and I mean awhile – since we were relaxing at this bar on CVT, Central Vermont Time) she made her way over to our table and inquired into why we were drinking our respective beverages of choice. It didn’t take her long to figure out where my allegiance was, but nevertheless we all started talking… about her brand, her career, her hobbies, etc. By the end of our pow-wow she knew that I worked for AB – yet she somehow felt compelled to take a round of drinks off of our bill. Of course this is what any great promoter would and should do – IF I had been drinking her product.

So I was not only able to get my Bud Light off my tab… but I was able to have the competition pay for it haha…  If that’s not what you call sales, honey – I don’t know what it is! ; )

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Full-Service Car Rentals… who knew??

I can’t believe it’s about that time. After 9 weeks, I’m leaving the Merrimack brewery and flying back to St Louis tomorrow afternoon for an epic 16-day reunion with my fellow GMTs. Corporate is reuniting us Merrimack-ers with those who spent their Supply rotations in Fort Collins, Cartersville, and LA. Let the good times roll. Also excited to begin our sales and marketing training – the real reason they’re bringing us all back together. We are also meeting the ABInBev Board of Directors on Friday morning. (ahhhhhhh! pinch me)  In the meantime though, a funny little something happened – something that I couldn’t resist writing a short blog about. So here it goes…

After flying back from an amazing Princeton homecoming weekend at Princeton, I somehow ended up stopping at the office Sunday night. I stopped on my way back home from the airport to check my e-mail, work on my final presentation, and tie up other loose ends. One of these “loose ends” included scheduling a rental car for my time in St Louis. While this seems like a quick, mundane task (logging onto the company travel site, entering the city and desired dates, and hitting enter)… it turned out to be a little more than I bargained for.

After my reservation was denied multiple times, I began trying to troubleshoot this issue (i.e. selecting every possible combination of car preference and rental company along with updating the car preferences on my “Avis wizard account).” To my dismay, the same errant message continued to pop up. Frustrated, I looked for a number to call on the website. Conveniently, I found nothing. I then clicked on a FAQ link I saw on the main page, hoping this could provide the contact information for someone… somewhere… who could help me out with. I called the 800 number listed on the pdf document, which was supposed to direct me to a Full Service Agent for reservation support. A short recording redirected me to call an additional number, so I did. I mean what is one more hoop to jump through at this point, right? I just want some form of transportation when I land in STL in 28 hours.

Nope. Should have stopped in my tracks – before I was connected to a call center recording that was offering a little bit more an affordable car rental (if you know what I mean!) And if you’re slower than that – wink, wink. To my surprise and bewilderment, I hung up the phone – convinced I had misdialed. I re-checked my numbers and called again. No, no – the mistake was not mine.

Here is the first contact number that I called, directly from the FAQ document. Proceed from here at your own risk.. haha

So while this is a pretty funny story, and something that I think safely falls into the category of “this would only happen to me!” – this blog post is an alibi and my testimonial to the fact that if I get contacted by Merrimack’s HR Department after I leave the brewery Wednesday afternoon, it will be ‘on record’ as to why this questionable number was dialed from my desk phone at 10:35pm – after hours and on a Sunday night. ah!

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“Smoke School” in the Live Free or Die State

Take a moment to ponder this intriguing title to my latest blog.

This post is about my having gone to – and successfully passed – “smoke school” in New Hampshire, the state notoriously known for its Live Free or Die mentality…

While this post unfortunately is not linked to the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, locally referred to as “NH Common Sense,” a political interest group dedicated to “bringing New Hampshire’s archaic marijuana laws out of the 1970’s and into the 21st Century,” I hope that it is not my debatably witty play on words, but the valiant effort behind them, that will keep my unsolicited readership entranced for a couple paragraphs more. Unsolicited – and without the promise of any 30-packed throwbacks…

So what IS this illusive “smoke school” I speak of? Well, it proved to be none of my initial hypotheses, which included:

1) a refresher on the ‘stop, drop, and roll methodology’

2) ‘best practices’ related to an illegal substance for which my hair was cut and tested pre-employment to ensure I didn’t have an abominable hobby that could impede my efforts to launch a successfully career and statistically diminish the likelihood that I’d successfully transition from the liberal madness of academia into the real world

3) don’t remember #3 – (OR just trying to still maintain some semblance of ‘Political Correctness’ in this post)

Real Definition: Smoke School, or Method 9 certification, is actually a Visible Emissions Certification Program that provides training and certification to identify visible emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency mandates that all companies (to which this is applicable) train their employees to identify the opacity of the smoke (a characteristic used to identify the degree of pollutants/contaminants being released into the atmosphere). Giving individuals the skill set to identify any irregularities in smoke color/composition ensures the EPA will be notified in a more timely manner, and thereby help minimize environmental damage of the smoke. (Black smoke is emitted when burning fuel-oil and white smoke is emitted for gas.)

The Test: 25 readings for black smoke (looking against the sky as a background) and 25 readings for white (using the tree line as a contrast). Determine opacity, in the 5-75% range, and calculate the deviation of your answer from the actual. In other words, 5% = 1, 10% = 2, 15% = 3 and so on… tally these points for both tests and the Total Deviation cannot exceed 37 in order to pass.

My "Smoke School" Test - compliments of AeroMet Engineering, Inc.

So there I was… winds 5-10 mph coming out of the NE, standing outside the spare parts warehouse, shivering and examining an artificial smoke column from 50 feet away. Lo and behold, I passed with flying colors… won a case of beer for passing on my first try, and free lunch from my GM to boot! Regardless of whether he admits defeat and delivers within the next 11 days – haha I hope you read this, Jeff : ) – it was awesome to be able to take part in one of the department’s training programs and get a better understanding of how Utilities works to maintain the safety of its employees and the surrounding community.

Really loving the eclectic nature of my training in Supply though (figured I would mention since you probably couldn’t discern this from any of my previous posts). Specifically, the fact that while every day is different and I’m getting to delve into the roles and responsibilities of the technicians with my bare hands, I’m also learning how the Utilities department as a whole fits into ABI’s overall strategy – and the challenges it faces to keep up with corporate expectations… very exciting stuff.

Okay, over and out! The alarm is set to go off in approximately 5 glorious hours : )

BUT just in case you’d like to peruse additional information regarding the “NH Common Sense” campaign while attempt to get some very minimal sleep, visit: http://nhcommonsense.org/about.

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Brito Knows What’s Up in Today’s WSJ

A-B InBev CEO: Better to be Selling Beer Than Talking to Banks

October 5, 2010

http://blogs.wsj.com/worldbusinessforum/2010/10/05/a-b-inbev-ceo-better-to-be-selling-beer-than-talking-to-banks/

Take a look! This short article summarizes our progress paying down the debt + how our culture of meritocracy is taking the company to the next level. Not in this article, but also wanted to note that… With solid fundamentals, an outstanding company culture to back it up, AND exclusive rights to the NFL next year, analysts such as Mark Swartzberg (of Stifel Nicolaus) have raised their ratings on BUD stock – to “buy” from “hold” – with a $70 price target. Hollerrrrr.

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All in a Day’s Work.

September 28th, 2010 – to be exact.

I feel inspired to blog today – because I think today truly encompasses what the GMTP program is all about. My morning started out as usual, bright and early – or dark and chilly would actually be a more accurate description of the temperature and level of light characteristic of any late September morning in New Hampshire. (I guess I bright and early was more of a reference to my mood, but I’ll use some artistic license here I guess.) Nevertheless, I was walking over to the daily utilities AM meeting, which kicks off everyday at 7am on the dot. This is a meeting where the midnight shift passes any safety concerns or process information to the guys on day shift who are just arriving.

Before the 8am management meeting, our department GM took me through the Labor and Time Management system – teaching me how to schedule and approve hours – and then through our SAP system to learn how to schedule work orders and allocate time for different maintenance projects. In the middle of the 8am meeting, one of the operators came in to ask a question in regards to a repair on the feed water screen to the boiler. If approved, he was going to re-size the screen and weld a new stainless steel screen in its place.

Little did he know that I wanted to learn how to weld at some point during my utilities rotation and that it was in fact promised that I would (that in addition to learning how to rebuild a car engine – but that’s completely unrelated to this story – just extremely cool). The perfect opportunity had arrived.

So, at 9:30am, I met Joe by his welding work station – which I feel compelled to add was decorated with an assortment of yellow and red flames painted on a black background. (Think Jessie James’ Monster Garage-esque.  Yes, mental picture accurate.) After Joe explained all of the different gadgets/steps in the process and I observed him for a grand total of five minutes, I was geared up and ready to go. I asked him if he was sure… and he responded “of course!” and that it was impossible to mess anything up. Luckily, I didn’t prove him wrong.

And so began my experience with TIG Welding. According to a reputable internet encyclopedia (begins with a “W” ends in an “A”), this is defined as, “a manual welding process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode, an inert or semi-inert gas mixture, and a separate filler material. Especially useful for welding thin materials, this method is characterized by a stable arc and high quality welds, but it requires significant operator skill and can only be accomplished at relatively low speeds.”

So there I was, an excited young apprentice, learning a skill that I had only known in the abstract sense – i.e. a process that involved melting metal, sparks, and a hardhat perhaps?? This was so far removed than anything I’ve ever learned how to do – but it’s the backbone of how some much of the brewery has been put together – intricately constructed pipes welded together carrying ammonia, electric wires, CO2, and compressed air around the brewery and powerhouse. Literally acting as the “veins” in brewing and packaging.

3pm – Next up was a conference call with St Louis about my upcoming trip back to Princeton to help recruit for the GMTP program this coming weekend! Information session on Monday, but also excited to head down early to visit friends, watch a football and a field hockey game, have dinner in NYC, meet up with my parents for brunch, and celebrate a former teammate’s 21st! Then information session Monday. It’s incredible how working at ABI can truly encompass both business and pleasure. Not a bad deal when you can get it.       

4pm – Physical Therapy: My back has some residual issues stemming from an injury (displaced disc in my senior season), so it’s really sensitive when I’m on my feet for hours on end. It is amazing to have such a great resource on-site. I had ultrasound done on my back and my neck stretched out. (This is a side-note, but the physical therapist has also become my ‘relationship guru,’ which makes visits essential – especially during times my relationship turmoil. I literally consider him on a level playing field with Oprah and my mother when it comes to discussing matters of the heart).

4:30pm – Conference call with corporate about our upcoming meeting with Board, set for the end of October 27th. EXCITING! Went over meeting expectation and what we’re supposed to have prepared.

What I loved about today though (and 99.9% of my days at work) is the fact that there is so much to learn about and do – and that my schedule is flexible enough that I can accept impromptu invites to learn how to weld. There’s an incredible number of people here that are willing to take time out of their day to help me learn a process or help out with a project – even if it means they have to put their own work on hold for a short time (or in the case of welding the feed water filter – take significantly longer, so that I can do some of the welding!) This is above their pay grade and is reflective of the corporate culture at the Merrimack Brewery. Further, the fact that I am able to take a little bit of free time in my day – and write in blog – is awesome. Because this is still considered “work” ; )

AND… to put the cherry on top, today was free beer pick-up Tuesday! Free case of Bud Light and Budweiser sitting in my trunk. So on that note… over and outttt!

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