Students at Diageo

HRM in practice at Diageo Global Supply Distillery

Not all learning has to happen in the classroom. These days it seems the alternatives are endless between online courses, guest speakers, conferences or documentaries. But nothing quite beats the idea of an old-fashioned field trip to a FTSE 100 organisation located in the Scottish countryside.

Although field trips during your Masters program differ slightly from those you took in your days of elementary school, an opportunity to head outside the classroom is exciting nonetheless.

Students at Diageo









The MSc Human Resource Management students packed onto the bus to head to Leven, Fife for a presentation and tour at the Diageo Global Supply Distillery. Diageo Western Europe is the second largest market for the global company, and it’s portfolio includes some of the most world-renowned brands including Smirnoff, Guinness, Johnny Walker, Captain Morgan…the list goes on.  They employ about 1200 people at that particular location, in areas including manufacturing, operations and administration. Needless to say, we were looking forward to exercising our accumulated Masters knowledge in the arena of a FTSE 100 company.

We arrived on location after a hour and a half bus ride through the Scottish countryside and were suited up head-to-toe with heavy-duty work boots, fluorescent vests and glasses. From there, we were led through the work floor to the conference room for coffee & presentation from David Light, Operations Director and Caroline Hair, Senior HR Business Partner. Learning from those who have the experience in a field that you want to eventually work in is always especially valuable, as you have the chance to see how your skills can be applied.

We also had the opportunity to ask questions about things we may not normally be exposed to in class – and gained further insights into the many topics we discussed at the Business School, including reward management, performance management, employee relations and international business. Johanna, an MSC HRM classmate from Germany, said it was interesting to see how the complexity of a workforce comes together and how important strong union relations really are within an organization.

After we were fueled up with caffeine and some useful HR lessons from David & Caroline, we were off to tour the facilities. Eyeglasses on and earplugs in, we wandered through the production floor, learning about the complexity and processes involved in operating at such high production levels as Diageo does. Teamwork, accountability and responsibility play big roles in ensuring smooth operations on the floor. After the tour finished, we thanked our helpful tour guides, returned our heavy-duty uniforms and climbed back on the bus for our trip back to the city.

Speaking to and learning from employees, and seeing classroom topics come to life within an organizational setting is really beneficial for setting the wheels in motion in terms of thinking about our own future employment.   It was an informative and interesting day for the MSc HRM class. We enjoy taking advantage of the opportunities the business school gives us in terms of learning and networking, and are looking forward to another trip to Amazon next month.

Find out more about the MSc HRM at the University of Edinburgh Business School



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Jessica Shannon, MSc HRM

Jessica Shannon is a student on the MSc HRM (Class 2014)