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Chris Shaw Diageo

Chris Shaw joins the Drinks Association Board

May 1, 2020
By Alana House

The Drinks Association has welcomed Diageo Commercial Director Chris Shaw as a Board member.

Shaw was appointed Commercial Director in 2019 and assumed responsibility for Diageo Australia’s sales strategy and its commercial and customer marketing teams in February. He started his career at Diageo Australia in 2001 and has 20 years’ experience in a variety of commercial and customer marketing roles.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to work as a united supplier group supporting Drinks Association and to advance the drinks industry,” Shaw said.

“As a Board, we have a critical role in ensuring an innovative, diverse and forward-thinking industry that’s delivering great experiences for retailers and consumers.”

Shaw is eager to support the continued collaboration between suppliers and retailers.

“By more deeply understanding retailer/venue/wholesaler needs and objectives, I would like to ensure collective supplier improvements to meet the changing needs of our partners and our consumers,” he explained.

Working together to overcome challenges

Shaw said the Drinks Association had an even more crucial role to play during the current health crisis.

“Having a cross-industry group that works together to support our industry is hugely important,” he noted

“The Drinks Association creates the environment for collaboration and sharing of best practice, which strengthens connection across companies, helping us build a meaningful network that benefits us all.

“It advocates for an inclusive and diverse industry to attract the best talent into drinks, including a fantastic mentoring program that builds the capabilities of our future leaders.

“The Drinks Association also plays a key role in informing and educating industry, and during this crisis it’s enabled up to date information sharing between suppliers on how to adapt to supply challenges and workforce planning/management that’s been useful during a challenging time.”

How Diageo is pivoting during COVID-19

While it’s been an unprecedented time for the industry since Shaw took over the Commercial Director role, there have been many highlights.

“I’ve welcomed three new commercial leaders in our business who have already made a huge impact at Diageo – Clair Stevenson who heads up our Endeavour Drinks team, James Fazal who is leading our Coles team, and Sean Bone who has taken on the newly expanded role of Head of Customer Marketing & Digital,” Shaw said.

“I’m also proud of how Diageo has responded in such an uncertain time. We’ve demonstrated agility as an organisation to embrace change and challenge, the likes of which we’ve never faced before.

“We’ve worked on an individual basis with our key on-premise customers to support them through this difficult time, looking for ways to help based on the needs of each customer.

“We’ve also donated ethanol to the Queensland Government that’s now going to help produce 500,000 bottles of hand sanitiser for frontline workers and schools. At times like this, the culture of an organisation is tested and I’m so proud of how the Diageo team has risen to the challenge.”

Additionally, Diageo has worked directly with its key on-premise customers and venues on support initiatives that have positively impacted their challenged cash flow and liquidity concerns.

“Across the industry as a whole, we’ve made available free online training, support on how to create batched cocktail solutions for venues to sell directly to consumers online or through venue, and custom made stock and payment solutions for our on-premise wholesalers,” Shaw explained.

Laying the foundation for future success

Looking to the future, Shaw said the key to success for the industry was working together to ensure a balanced and effective regulatory framework that supports the freedom for people to choose to consume alcohol responsibly.

“And for companies to continue to market their brands to consumers of legal purchasing age and above responsibly too,” he added. “Similarly, the leadership of a responsible drinking culture; this is a core principle of our industry’s social license to operate and every part of the supply chain has a role to play in promoting moderation.

Diageo Australia celebrated being recognised by the WGEA as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality in 2019.

Shaw said the industry also needed to maintain momentum on working towards equality, through an ambitious inclusion and diversity agenda.

“It’s not only the right thing to do, but an inclusive and diverse industry will also deliver stronger performance,” he added.

Shaw is looking forward to promoting greater inclusion and diversity in the drinks industry through his role on the Board.

“There remains more to be done,” he said. “As part of my advocacy for Drinks Association’s inclusion and diversity agenda, I look forward to identifying, developing and fostering the emerging talent of our industry who will be its leaders of tomorrow.”

Lastly, Shaw believes there’s a lot suppliers can learn from other progressive industries.

“Continuing to prioritise insight-led innovation and increasing our capabilities in the use of technology, data, and e-commerce platforms means we can achieve even more in our supplier/retailer partnerships,” he concluded.