Shake Well: Creating Balance to Bring Impact

Kathryn Taylor – Senior Business Manager, Jebsen Beverage

A classic melange of seven ingredients, the Singapore Sling is complicated to make but impossible to forget. If I were to describe myself in my truest element, this bittersweet gin cocktail reveals the perfect mixture into my professional life.

Before joining Jebsen in 2017, I was working in sales covering over 2000 products. For someone who craved creative freedom, the sales-only job felt limiting. I wanted to nurture ideas too. Working with numbers alone felt like a cocktail with a key ingredient missing. I was simply not delivering to my full potential. In my heart, I knew that my true calling was a role that would let me honour both my love for structure and my creative spirit.

Today, I’m glad to have found this energising balance in my role as Senior Business Manager at Jebsen Beverage. It’s the perfect mix of Excel sheets and more creative engagements. I love that every day is different. I get to use my finance knowledge, while also collaborating with different teams to manage different aspects of our business. I get to work at my desk, analysing data and strategising on some days, and go out, executing new ideas to promote our products on others.

I believe that my number-driven mindset and imagination reinforce each other, enabling me to accomplish big things at Jebsen over the past three years.

For example, I have seen how my knack for organisation can make room for something new. Faced with the very difficult task of rebuilding the company’s spirit portfolio within my first six months here, I knew I had to organise my way through this big target to keep myself from being overwhelmed. I used well-planned timelines to activate my resourcefulness, while leveraging my social network to identify brands that pair best with Jebsen. Successfully rebuilding this portfolio, with structured grace under pressure, became one of the highlights of my career in Jebsen. I similarly applied this balanced formula in securing an exclusive distribution partnership with Beam Suntory in 2020.

In 2019, I was given autonomy to organise our first-ever Sake Walk. It felt great to be entrusted with something so big and pioneering. With 3,000 visitors and an audience reach of over 1 million, we generated major brand awareness. Thanks to the highly structured project plan, my team pulled off these numbers well on schedule, without the kind of last-minute frenzy that normally precedes big events like these. It was an impressive win for everyone.

Naturally, challenges come with every job, but fortunately mastering this balanced approach has empowered me to rise above any professional difficulties. Thriving in a male-dominated industry, as well as dealing with a foreign market and organisational culture, are real challenges that I tackled with data-based and emotionally intelligent choices. As a people manager, I’ve learned to let go of things that are out of my control, while also doing my best to coach my team towards adopting new habits, such as embracing more audacious goals as well as reacting to challenges with an affirming “Yes” rather than a pessimistic “No”.

My colleagues often see me racing around, creating new spreadsheets, teaching sports class before work, networking, and cramming in numerous hobbies in between. This is the kind of balance that keeps me productive. I am able to stay in tip-top shape professionally because I have all these varying ingredients in my career that keep my glass full, and I thank Jebsen for that. I look forward to being entrusted with more—a bigger team and more global brands—while I take on the new role of a mother very soon. Just like a Singapore Sling, I have learned to celebrate my unique hues in a very competitive environment, always stirring in a blend of structure and creativity guaranteed to pack a flavourful punch.