#Tastemakers: Kenyan Arnold Sawe meets CEO of Pernod Ricard Group

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Arnold Sawe with the rest of the contest finalists

Pernod Ricard Global has been influential in championing engagement and excellence alongside the development of its business.

Most recently, to inspire emerging generations, the French company launched a unique global campaign on their social media platform LinkedIn dubbed #MeetAlexILR where seven finalists won a grand prize of a lifetime: a trip to Paris, France to meet Alexandre Ricard, Chairman and CEO Pernod Ricard Group (the company’s youngest CEO).

Carrying the flag for Kenya was 24-year-old Arnold Sawe, a volunteer at TERSCA Tours &T ravel Agency in Nairobi. He beat out thousands of submissions from around the world and joined 6 other winners from France, USA, Chile, Singapore, New Zealand and India.

On his return, Capital Lifestyle caught up with Arnold to get some insight on his four-day moment of conviviality in Paris, France.

Arnold Sawe & Alexandre Ricard during the cocktail

Tell us a little about yourself?

I currently work at a family business in the travel and tourism industry. I am passionate about travel. The best part is interacting with diverse people and understanding their cultures, it’s what brings us together. I also love taking time off and going on safari to explore Kenya.

What encouraged you to participate in the contest?

I stumbled on the exciting campaign by chance (perhaps in hindsight there is no such thing as chance). I was familiar with PernodRicard, having done a case study on them at USIU during my strategic management class. With the vast knowledge I had on the company, I was confident enough to take part knowing I was in with a chance to succeed.

 How did you feel when you found out you were one of seven selected?

Two weeks after taking part in the contest I received a confirmationthat I had qualified as one of the finalists and that I would be representing Kenya and Africa. It was a thrilling moment, I couldn’t quite believe it; and yet it reinforced my belief that you have to grab every opportunity that comes your way. It was extremely exciting.

What was your itinerary like in Paris?

We were treated to a true French experience, extremely hospitable and welcoming.

On arrival in Paris, we were treated to a five-course dinner including salmon, chicken, and cheese course. And of course cocktails and champagnes from their portfolio of brands. I tried the traditional French aperitif RICARD and G.H.MUMM Champagne.

We went on a tour of Paris to see all the great sites including he Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower, The Palaces of Versailles, Notre Dame Cathedral, Arc de Triompheand many more.

And then we spent a great deal of time with the PernodRicard team at their Global Headquarters. Learning about the company and seeing all the exciting and innovative things they do.

This was an educative and interactive and extremely humbling opportunity whereby we got to experience the various brands at a time the company is celebrating 40 years as a global leader in the wine and spirits industry.

We were hosted to a cocktail in our honour by the CEO AlexandreRicard, we felt like celebrities.

What was inspiring about meeting Alexandre?

 Alexandre Ricard is a very inspiring CEO, I was humbled to have an informal andcandid conversation with him, was definitely the highlight of my trip!

I would describe Mr. Alexandre as a millennial CEO, at his age 43; he is definitely one of the youngest CEOs in charge of such a huge multinational. What impressed me was his depth of knowledge. Africa is a key emerging market for him – one that he sees a great deal of opportunity in. He knew all about the wines and spirits market on the continent including who the key players (big and small) are in Kenya.

It was inspiring to see that he took the time to want to interact with each of us and genuinely hear our stories. We talked about being innovative in the digital space, how digitalisation is the game changer and how he envisions taking his company’s rich heritage into that space.

It left me highly motivated and encouraged to look to the future.

 What advice do you have to fellow young people from your experience?

Life is based on the choices and chances you make. Use social media as a platform to enrich your life and explore new experiences, you could end up being at the right place at the right time and win a lifetime experience like I did.

Moreover, having a good life doesn’t come instantly. Work hard for it and keep learning. Striving for excellence is important.

What do we expect of you in the future?

Wow! This trip has just proven to me that the future is greaterthan I can imagine, I embrace all opportunities that come my way and I am eager for what it holds. This is just the beginning for me.

Most memorable and fun moment of your trip?

Meeting Alexandre Ricard is definitely the most memorable moment it felt that he valued our time and was enthusiastic to meet the entire group of contestants drawn from across the globe.

Standing under the Eiffel tower was an unforgettable experience. It is truly as magnificent as the pictures.

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