Hear from Mariana Plaja on leading the sustainability agenda in Venezuela and creating lasting impact.

Mariana, Corporate Communications and Sustainability Manager, tells us all about leading the sustainability agenda in Venezuela and how Learning for Life, our flagship skills programme, is creating a lasting impact.

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How would you describe your role at Diageo and what’s the most exciting thing about it?

My role at Diageo helps towards creating a more inclusive and sustainable world. Diageo gives me the freedom to succeed and the support to grow, create and innovate.

Leading the sustainability agenda in Venezuela has been very fulfilling. The resilience, passion, energy and sense of commitment from the team allows us to find opportunities that add value to our communities, and the work makes a real difference to the country.

How is Learning for Life driven locally across different markets and what is the overarching aim of the programme?

At Diageo, we are committed to making a positive contribution to the society in which we operate, supply, and sell for our stakeholders.

Learning for Life is a part of our Society 2030: Spirit Of Progress 10-year sustainable action plan in which we have set ambitious targets in the ‘Decade of Action’ to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We want to help create a more inclusive and sustainable world. As part of this, Diageo will provide skills and training to over 200,000 people globally to help create an inclusive and thriving hospitality sector.

Learning for Life is carried out through 59 different programmes across 30 countries where Diageo is present. All the programmes have a common goal: to provide adult education through skills programmes related to our industry and value chain, including hospitality, entrepreneurship and bartending. The programme can transform people's lives through improving their employment opportunities and their livelihoods. Since 2008, this programme has impacted more than 100,000 people around the world.

In Venezuela, we educate adults between 18 and 40 years old in commercial, bartending, entrepreneurship and life skills through three programmes: Bars and Restaurants Management; Leadership in Sales and Marketing; and Gastronomic Digital Marketing & Merchandising. All admitted applicants receive a scholarship to participate in the program at no cost.

Diageo has recently launched the Learning for Life virtual platform. Tell us what this campaign involves and why Diageo are committed?

Like everyone around us, we've needed to adapt quickly during the Covid-19 pandemic, so Diageo launched the Learning for Life virtual platform globally through the Diageo Bar Academy website to give free online access to digital resources. The curriculum includes several modules on topics such as leadership and negotiation, responsible service, and inclusion and diversity, among others.

What has been your involvement in this campaign and why does this matter to you?

Each of the 180 markets where Diageo is present has goals towards our Society 2030 Plan including Venezuela. Through our Learning for Life platform, we reaffirm our commitment to the programme and the country. Through education, we will continue to impact and transform the lives of people, communities and society.

In Venezuela, the pandemic meant we had to reinvent and adapt Learning for Life for the new reality, so we moved from in-person learning to a virtual classroom to give people the opportunity to join online.

Working directly with the Learning for Life students has been an unforgettable experience that has struck a chord with me because it is in line with my life purpose: to be better every day. All our participants have a story to tell. When you see them graduating and that emotion on their faces, it tells us that we are doing well!

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