PROFILE: Amanda Bowman, Diageo - Knuckling down to community service. One-time PA Amanda Bowman now has a Europe-wide remit at Diageo

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.

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

says.



Bowman will be focusing on community involvement programmes in Europe

across the whole Diageo portfolio of brands, from Burger King to

Guinness.



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

projects forward.



’Amanda is motivated in part by a strong belief that companies should be

involved in local communities,’ says Annette Carroll, a former colleague

at BITC.



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

objectives.



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

companies.



In 1998, she was appointed as BITC’s first corporate community

investment director.



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.





HIGHLIGHTS



1988: Senior account mgr, Young and Rubicam



1996: National programmes director, Businesss in the Community



2000: Head of community involvement, UK and Europe, Diageo.



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