Meet Sam, Head of Smirnoff Europe

He started as a Sales Executive in South London, and is now the Head of Smirnoff for Europe: we sat down with Sam at our global headquarters in London to celebrate his successful 10 year career with Diageo.


How did you start your career in at Diageo begin?

I applied to Diageo’s graduate scheme three times – but I didn’t get in! It must have been third time lucky though, because that time, someone kept my CV and offered me an entry-level job selling to Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s in and around South London. From there, I moved to a commercial planning and activation position in the head office, developing point of sale and cardboard stacking units.

Did you have an easy transition into Marketing?

Diageo are very willing to take a risk on you, and that’s fortunately what happened to me. Even though I’d worked in commercial for six years, and had no marketing experience, Diageo took a leap of faith and my career in marketing began. It was brilliant, and from there I built up all the marketing capabilities that I’ve learnt today. I then moved to a full-time marketing position for Baileys, and to my current role as Head of Smirnoff for Europe.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I always try and get the team to spend as much time out of the office as possible – meeting the music talent we work with, their teams and people from within the wider communities we aim to support. I really encourage my team, and others around me, to take risks and do things differently. 

How would you describe the Smirnoff Team?

 A brand like Smirnoff needs to attract a diverse bunch of thinkers – in the same way it attracts an amazing and diverse mix of partnerships, from Live Nation and Spotify to The LGBT Foundation and LADBible.

“"The people in my team are all quite different, for various reasons. Whether that’s upbringing, race, sexuality, gender, where we live... we have to be different, so that we can bring diverse opinions to the table."”


Head of Smirnoff Europe

What do you love most about working at Diageo?

I thought it’d be non-stop fun when I joined Diageo ten years ago – and it genuinely is, but that’s down to all the great people I’ve worked with, my bosses, peers and interns. I’ve learned so much from everyone here, including the entry-level marketers in my team right now. That’s the amazing environment we have at Diageo. No-one is a know-it-all; we all thrive off each other.

Want to know more about the Smirnoff Brand Team?

Want to join our 30,000 strong team?

Like the sound of starting your career as a sales executive?