A system of grids and ticks has done as much as anything to get
Amanda Bowman where she is today. With only days left as corporate
community investment director at charity Business in the Community
(BITC), she’s packing up her flowcharts and spreadsheets and preparing
for her new post at Diageo.
From the beginning of April she’ll be taking over as head of community
involvement UK and Europe at the food and drinks conglomerate. As BITC
account manager for Diageo, she knows exactly what she is letting
herself in for.
’I know Diageo has a good community programme, and that what they are
doing is of a high quality, but now all the dust has settled since the
merger, there’s a real chance to push things forward, to move on from
the treading water that was an inevitable by-product of the merger,’ she
Bowman will be focusing on community involvement programmes in Europe
across the whole Diageo portfolio of brands, from Burger King to
She says she is particularly excited at the prospect of helping the
continental European businesses establish the Anglo-US community
involvement models that have become prevalent here. Having seen such
projects work in the 650 businesses that are members of BITC, she says
she is confident she can put it into practice.
In addition, she will be charged with managing the Diageo foundation
finances - one per cent of pre-tax profits go into the community each
year. The job, she says, will be a mix of supporting the businesses in
their up-and-running projects, feeding them new ideas, and driving
’Amanda is motivated in part by a strong belief that companies should be
involved in local communities,’ says Annette Carroll, a former colleague
This is backed up by Bowman’s reasons for moving to BITC from
advertising agency Young and Rubicam in 1990. ’I really felt we were
moving from a decade of ’me’ to a decade about ’we’,’ she says.
So Bowman left Y&R with no job to go to, just a conviction that she
didn’t want to be on the board of an advertising agency, and an idea
that she might go travelling. She was single, she had some savings, and
she’d decided she just wasn’t hungry enough to continue to do a good job
at Y&R. Redundancies were in the air, and she said she knew that one
day, her name would be on one of those lists. Her fate was sealed the
following night at a party she nearly didn’t go to. There she met her
future husband, and three weeks later former Y&R client BITC called and
asked her to come in for a chat.
She joined as the first campaign manager for the Employee Volunteering
Initiative, which she took from a five-company campaign to one that
involved more than 200 companies, and which she developed from being a
volunteer-based initiative to one which met mainstream human resource
A three-year stint in the charity’s education department was followed by
promotion to director of account management where she was responsible
for improving the quality and range of services offered to member
In 1998, she was appointed as BITC’s first corporate community
Bowman’s route to the top was somewhat unconventional. After a
secretarial college diploma, a friend said advertising agencies were
fun, so she went to temp in one. She worked her way up from secretary to
PA through advertising agencies, via Sainsbury’s and to the BITC.
She confesses to impatience, to a frustration at bureaucracy, and to
biting her nails - she doesn’t think it looks very professional. She
talks with pride of a complicated flow-chart she invented, which
remained a mystery to all around her but which, when all the boxes were
ticked and the arrows followed, would lead inexorably to the day the
account was won.
Colleagues speak of her as being very focused and well-organised and to
finding the primary schoolesque charts and spreadsheets helpful. ’I got
credit for an excellent grid system which showed that when all the boxes
were ticked that you’d covered all bases and were completely prepared,
but it was all Amanda’s idea,’ Carroll recalls. She is warm in her
praise of someone whom she describes as a great role model, who ’showed
that you can work your way up’.
Outside of work, with two children under five, Bowman manages to squeeze
in some entertaining at home and a bit of soap-watching. The rest of the
time is taken up making sure she is ’doing a good job’. So much so that
her second child was born only 12 hours into her maternity leave.
Cherie, we don’t recommend it.
1988: Senior account mgr, Young and Rubicam
1996: National programmes director, Businesss in the Community
2000: Head of community involvement, UK and Europe, Diageo.