A Day in the Life… Michael Morris, director of sales – whiskey, Niche Drinks Co
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE?
I work as director of sales for The Quiet Man Irish Whiskey owned by Niche Drinks Co. I’ve been in the position just short of three years. My role is to open up world-wide distribution channels for our whiskey brand, as well as ensuring we build a presence here in our domestic market; 127,000 miles travelled and we successfully opened 20-plus new international markets, so you can now get The Quiet Man premium blend and single malts in the four corners of the globe.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
After I left Queen’s University Belfast, I have worked in the drinks business my entire working life. I learned everything I know about selling in the old Bass Ireland Brewery on the Glen Road in Belfast, and have been specifically in sales/marketing/commercial roles in the Irish whiskey business too many years to count.
WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?
Seeing the world through my job, I never underestimate and, as a student of history, it has been fantastic for me to personally visit many of the exotic places in far corners of the globe I read about growing up.
Time away from my (mostly) understanding wife Jane can be hard, and I’ve three grown up daughters that I do not see enough of as they have their own lives now, but that being said I feel incredibly privileged to be working for Niche and this fantastic brand – what’s not to love!
WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT THE SECTOR?
As I said, I have seen the hard times for the Irish whiskey category and I remember a time working for Cooley Distillery when it was incredibly hard to get appointments with key people – there was a sense of being the ‘poor relation’ vis Scotch. How the world has changed – so, although challenging, our time is now, and we along with the other Irish whiskey players are laying the foundations for the next 20 years of growth in the category.
OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY
A typical day on the road is getting a good first-hand view of the market in question and, as an ex sales manager and indeed rep, I am always interested in seeing first-hand how the local sales people are working with our brand in any market. Relationships are incredibly important in our business so I make sure I am never seen as some visiting ‘suit’ that people need to impress, but rather someone who is there to help, keen to understand problems and ultimately help with solutions by using my extensive experience in the category.
PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE
Believe it or not, like most people I have had many highs and a few lows but my proudest moment was way back and I can I can see it vividly even now. I was placed third in the Sales Man (not person back in those days) of the Year competition in my first year with Bass Ireland which, for the first time, made me realise that I could sell and could be successful in this industry. It would be fair to say that I never doubted myself or ever looked back after that.
BEST THING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED IN THE LOCAL SECTOR
I love ‘the trade’ for what it is as a career, but I have a real sense of being part of something much bigger than myself in Niche and, now with our new merger, with the American company Luxco. The business is never dull, often dynamic and to be in the mix is a great incentive that keeps me motivated – I can honestly say I love my job and pinch myself sometimes to realise now lucky I am to be part of The Quiet Man project and the wider Irish whiskey ‘come back’.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?
I read a lot of non-fiction and like to frankly do very little when I’m not travelling. As my wife tells me often, I need to stay fit and healthy to keeping going at this pace, so one of these days I am going to listen and do just that.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF NOT MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW
I am exactly what it says on the tin!
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