"An appetite for the unknown": Kavitha Krishnamurthy reflects on her career path from tennis pro to Diageo

"An appetite for the unknown": Kavitha Krishnamurthy reflects on her career path from tennis pro to Diageo

27 Apr 2022
Kavitha Krishnamurthy

Tell us about your background and path to Diageo

I started my career as a professional tennis player. After graduating from Princeton, where I was an NCAA player, I decided to turn pro. I traveled the world competing in tournaments and spent weeks on the road before coming home. I loved competitive tennis, and after several years on the tour, I knew it was time for a change: I pursued a Master’s degree at Oxford and an MBA at INSEAD. Upon graduating from INSEAD, I was fortunate to receive an opportunity at an iconic, global consumer products company. While there, I worked in a variety of commercial roles both with the Bottler and the parent company, in Canada and the US — Channel Strategy, Commercial Leadership, Revenue Growth Management, and finally, in Strategic Planning & Performance Intelligence. After eight years working on amazing brands and building lifelong friendships, an incredible opportunity arose on the Revenue Growth Management team at Diageo. I joined Diageo in Toronto, Canada in December of 2019.

What is your current role? What would you say is most exciting about it?

I am currently the Revenue Growth Management (RGM) Director at Diageo Canada. RGM works cross-functionally to bring our revenue growth strategies to the marketplace. RGM is meant to be a value growth engine for the business, and it’s particularly exciting and challenging to work in this space right now. During COVID, we saw shopping behaviors change and consumption occasions shift virtually overnight. And now with global supply chain disruptions, we are working hard to find smart and sustainable ways to drive top and bottom-line growth.

Cross-functional collaboration is critical in everything we do at Diageo, and it is especially true in RGM. We partner with Sales, Marketing and Finance to ensure we are adding value to our customers and consumers, and that we are generating growth for the company. I find this 360-degree nature of our work, coupled with the spirit of cross-functional camaraderie at Diageo particularly exciting. 

What traits have helped you thrive in your career?

I hope I am thriving in my career! I do think what has served me well is a flexibility to adapt to different cultures and environments. Underpinning this, I think, is an appetite for the unknown – whether it be assuming new assignments, changing functions, or moving geographically.

I really enjoy working in RGM because of the exposure we have to many different teams and functions across the organization. There is so much knowledge and diversity of experience at Diageo that every day brings an opportunity for professional development.

How would you describe the culture at Diageo?

Of course, the people of any organization are the heartbeat of its culture. And the people at Diageo are accomplished, globally minded and entrepreneurial. I will also say that people at Diageo are incredibly friendly! You can never underestimate the importance of working with kind and generous people – and our teammates both in North America and around the world are just that. I think these are the traits that fuel our culture.

Additionally, Diageo’s policies regarding paid parental leave, our Society 2030 goals, and opportunities for both global and local secondments are just a few of the ways in which the company’s culture comes to life. In fact, I will soon be starting a secondment, working as the Commercial Director for the Open States.

What do you think differentiates career opportunities at Diageo from those at other companies?

I would say that Diageo embodies the best qualities of a large, established, multinational company, with tremendous agility and an unwavering entrepreneurial spirit.

What is the best piece of career advice you’ve received?

You will be amazed by what you can learn if you listen.

What is your favorite Diageo brand and why?

Baileys. I enjoy an Irish coffee on St Patrick’s day!

What do you like to do outside of the office?

During the pandemic, I gave birth to a baby boy. While the pandemic has undoubtedly been challenging, a personal silver lining is that I have spent much quality time at home with my son. Watching him grow in these early months has been incredibly joyful and has also consumed much of any spare time I used to have! Beyond spending time with my son, husband and parents, I recently began serving on the Princeton Prize in Race Relations' at large committee and have volunteered with American Corporate partners. I also enjoy cooking and I do still try to get on the tennis court as much as possible, but I am a bit rusty!