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HEINEKEN Vietnam is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and though this seems to be the toughest time to celebrate, the world’s most famous beer continues to ‘Raise the Bar’ and contribute to its global sustainability goals.
In this episode of Vietnam Innovators, Hao Tran meets with Holly Bostock, HEINEKEN Vietnam’s Corporate Affairs Director as they talk about the Vietnamese consumers’ dynamism, her 11-year journey with the beer company and corporate affairs in a nutshell.
Guardian of the company’s reputation
Originally from London, Bostock’s passion for history, the art and Spain — its culture, food, and everything about the country — all led her to take up MA History of Art and Spanish at the University of Edinburgh.
Fresh from the university and looking for a job that will give her the opportunity to travel and not be attached to the 9-5 lifestyle, Bostock took a chance at the Corporate Relations Graduate Programme offered by HEINEKEN. While at it, she traveled to the US, The Netherlands, and to her favorite country, Spain.
Eleven years in, Bostock now holds the ‘guardian of the company’s reputation’ role. But what does a Corporate Affairs Director really do?
Bostock simplified it and said, “Think about a company like a person — we all want to have a good image, a good reputation, build relationships, interact with society and Corporate Affairs is like looking after the company as a person.”
To her, Corporate Affairs (as a department) serves as the eyes and ears of the company which means they have to really see what’s going on in the outside world. “Listen to feedback about our company, get the view of our stakeholders and think, as a company, what’s the best thing to do.”
In her role, Bostock briefly shared the three major disciplines that further explain the depth of what Corporate Affairs is — Public Affairs, Sustainability, and Communications.
Public affairs mean “engaging with our stakeholders.” It could be the government, Bostock shared, since HEINEKEN Vietnam is a big name and an alcohol business, they are responsible for making sure they’re doing the right things not only for the company but also for society.
In 2020, HEINEKEN Vietnam was recognized as the #2 most sustainable company in the country by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry — the fifth consecutive year the company is in TOP 3 of this ranking.
According to Bostock that when it comes to sustainable efforts, HEINEKEN has been doing it for years. And building long-term sustainable strategies and visions for the company and its brands is also part of corporate affairs. In addition to that, talking to stakeholders, government, and media to share what HEINEKEN Vietnam is doing is also part of her job.
Lastly, probably what most people assume to be the only thing corporate affairs does is ‘communications.’ “This is where the cool stuff comes in, where we meet celebrities, parties, you get to go to Formula 1 events, UEFA Champions League, among others.” Apart from having fun, the goal is to explain who HEINEKEN Vietnam is and to build relationships with the media. But to Bostock, the most important audience is the employees.
“Internal communications is also part of corporate affairs. How we build the culture within our company, how do we connect in person and virtually, and how we bring people together.”
Because of technology, consumers’ demand for information changed. If nice and shiny press releases and fun ads on TV were effective before, showing the real deal is what matters now — genuine, innovative, and creative.
HEINEKEN in Vietnam presents more choices and brands for Vietnamese consumers, beyond its Heineken brand. Whatever you’re celebrating, you can always grab a Tiger Beer or Larue, or perhaps, Bia Viet, and if you like apple cider, there’s Strongbow.
HEINEKEN Vietnam has 6 breweries, all spread across the country with over 3,000 employees who are mostly in sales. Bostock is proud to have a diverse team — a mix of genders, experiences, and ages. In fact, 30% of them are under 30 years old.
Holly believes that with Vietnam’s high demand for new things, they’re able to constantly innovate. Product innovations, such as Tiger Crystal and Heineken Silver, were born in Vietnam catering for Vietnamese consumers, and have been launched in other markets around the world.
Talking about opportunities and because of her experience with HEINEKEN, the Corporate Affairs Director highly recommends young professionals to take advantage of their Asia Pacific Graduate Program and Supply Chain Next Gen Program. All information is detailed on their social media platforms, including Facebook and LinkedIn.
Bostock admits that after working in different HEINEKEN operating companies, this one in Vietnam has so much energy and it truly reflects the Vietnamese spirit. “A population with nearly 100 million people and 50% are under 30. It’s a lot of energy, movement, and dynamism. People want to progress and try new things. Vietnam is a very exciting place to be.