Q&A with Charlie Carr-Smith

date published



Kirsten Blackie-Gault



As we continue our new series of Q&As, we catch up with Charlie Carr-Smith, who works in the London on-trade team as a national account executive. Charlie has been with us for three years and three months – about 1200 days or an eighth of his life (not that he is counting!)

Prior to joining Edrington-Beam Suntory he worked for a start-up in the RTD sector for eight months, after graduating from Oxford Brookes University with a dual degree in International Relations with Communications, Media and Culture.

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Describe a typical day at Edrington-Beam Suntory UK?

Typical is not usually a word I would (or could) associate with the London on-trade; it’s a fast-moving dynamic environment which requires a flexible schedule to suit. Work life revolves around a lot of face-to-face contact with existing business partners, meeting new ones, constructing proposals for upcoming tenders or activations, developing concepts for events and serves, analysing the profitability, value and volumes of accounts and working closely with those accounts on activities to increases these three pillars…. The list goes on. It never stops and is always evolving. I like that.

What is your favourite part of your role?

As with the above, the constancy of change in the on-trade is something that never ceases to amaze me. I have always loved the world of food and drink, and working with bars gives you an insider viewpoint into the world of trend-leading gastronomy. My favourite part is watching these trends evolve from a niche ‘industry market’ to the mainstream consumer. See ya Aperitivo…. cue highballs!

Is there anything you find challenging within your role?

Time-management. I wouldn’t say I’m naturally a structured person. I’ve always got a zillion things flying around in my head and adding that to the unstructured nature of the role, it can often make life a little dizzying. Writing to-do lists, diary entries and managing both personal and work time are things I’ve really had to learn and focus on. I’m definitely improving but still a long way to go.

What advice would you have for others looking to move into a sales role within the drinks industry?

Just do it. Why? I don’t think you can get a better grounding in business. Sales requires and teaches you to be self-motivated, good with people, better at problem solving (usually this involves people), and it’s also a decent stepping stone into the financial side of business – a skill that’s necessary for anyone who wants to progress into more senior roles.

The most important question – what is your favourite serve?

If I’m not paying, a Hakushu 12YO highball with ice cold soda and a spring of mint. This was introduced to me a couple of years back by Zoran Peric (House of Suntory's Japanese whisky brand ambassador), and I haven’t had a more refreshing, nuanced or game-changing drink to date.

If I am paying, a Negroni with Roku.