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Current fellows of the programme. Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

"I couldn't recommend it more": Launch your career in the international food and drink industry

Applications for the Bord Bia Talent Academy Marketing Fellowship are open until 25 September.

DO YOU HAVE dreams of working in the food and drink industry?

Interested in living abroad to kickstart those dreams on a global stage?

Then you should consider the Bord Bia Talent Academy Marketing Fellowship (applicants must have two to three years of work experience before applying). 

The programme includes a fully-funded Master’s qualification from UCD Michael Smurfit Business School, as well as extensive overseas experience in the areas of sales, brand and digital marketing, consumer insights, sustainability and leadership. 

Successful applicants to the Bord Bia Marketing Fellowship will complete a Master’s degree in International Marketing Practice with lecturers from UCD Smurfit as well as Harvard, IMD, and NYU Stern. On placement, fellows will work for two or three of Bord Bia’s Irish food, drink, and horticulture clients abroad. 

As a Bord Bia Fellow, you’ll also receive a monthly bursary to support you as you live and work abroad for an 18-month placement in cities including New York, London, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Madrid, Milan, Dusseldorf, Dubai, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo. 

To learn more about the day-to-day experience of a Bord Bia Talent Academy Marketing fellow, we checked in with Fiona Flavin to hear about how she spends her time in Tokyo.

A day in the life of a Bord Bia Fellow

Fiona juggles multiple clients and travels around Japan to meet with chefs, attend events, and participate in what she terms ‘Japanese business etiquette,’ or eating and drinking with business associates to strengthen relationships. 

On this particular day, Fiona reports having hopped on the subway to check out a hotel venue for a Bord Bia dinner event.

“We’ll be trying to convince 30 Japanese trade people that Irish beef is the best in the world — easy enough!” she explains. Once there, she has a meeting with the head chef as her client’s beef will be on the menu.” 

shibuyacrossingattwilightintokyojapanfromabove Fiona moved to Tokyo with the Bord Bia Talent Academy Marketing Fellowship. Shutterstock Shutterstock

Fiona then boards a Shinkansen or bullet train to another city 260km from Tokyo. The journey only takes 90 minutes and she arrives at Nagoya’s ‘Anytime Whiskey Festival’, where her client company is exhibiting.

“Customers are eagerly lined up outside, ready to break through the gates to get their hands on the latest releases and special editions,” Fiona says, “In Japan, whiskey is not just a drink, it’s an extreme hobby.”

After spending time checking in with Irish clients, Fiona meets up with co-workers for ‘Japanese business etiquette’, where they try the local food. “In each town, city, and prefecture in Japan there is a specialty food, and ‘did you try…?’ is always the first question you’re asked,” Fiona reveals.

After trying Miso Katsu and Tebasaki, the local specialties, Fiona and her colleagues stop at a traditional Japanese-style cocktail bar that stocks her client’s whiskey. “It’s just one part of Japan’s unique bar culture, which also includes izakaya, karaoke, and alleyways of tiny bars that can only seat five people. It was a fun night as always.” 

Fiona has thoroughly enjoyed her time as a Bord Bia Fellow, adding: “I couldn’t recommend it more to anyone who wants to travel, meet new people, and gain practical experience in the food industry.” 

Applicants for the Bord Bia Talent Academy Marketing Fellowship must have two to three years of work experience before applying. The deadline for applications is 25 September via the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.

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