Certified Remarkable: Boston Beer's eCommerce Expert On Women in the BevAlc Industry
Meet Kristen Giger, Certified Cicerone®, eCommerce Strategist at Boston Beer and Mom of Three. Kristen shares how she has cut her teeth in the beer industry, why compassionate leadership is her guiding light and how to juggle it all.
March 29, 2023
The month of March is Women’s History Month, and Encompass is reflecting on the significant impact women have on the beverage industry and those who are trailblazing the path to gender equality.
Today, we are highlighting the brewing side of the BevAlc business. This week, we sat down with Boston Beer’s eCommerce Strategy Manager, Kristen Giger. During her 15 years in the beverage industry, Kristen has worn many hats across different parts of the business, while also getting her MBA, Cicerone® certification, and becoming a mom of three. Kristen currently leads the B2B side of Boston Beer’s eCommerce team, where she built the playbook for what online sales look like during a pandemic. A strategy that is now a foundation for Boston Beer to grow, and others in the industry to follow.
Kristen shares her perspective on earning respect with multi-generational wholesalers starting as a fresh college graduate in her 20’s. She highlights how she has owned her role through education, supportive colleagues and a company of fellow beer experts.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a leader in the industry? How have you overcome it?
Early in my career, it was very hard to set boundaries and say “No.” As part of stepping into a leadership role, I’ve learned how to be better at guarding my time. I’m a very driven person, so it was crucial for me to learn where my boundaries are. Someone is always going to need more from you, so I am strict about cutting out time for myself to recharge and get work done. As a result I feel more in control of my workload and day-to-day. I’m so much more efficient today! I know that I only have 24 hours in a day to juggle my job and be with my family - so I deprioritize things that aren’t helping me hit my deliverables.
What’s one thing we can all do to support women in leadership roles in the industry?
Champion one another and not see anyone with potential as a threat. Continue to lift other women up and show support in whatever capacity you can. I believe women in management have a duty to mentor up-and-coming leaders so we can help raise the bar for younger generations in the beverage industry.
Don’t treat people differently because of their gender. At the end of the day there are differences in how I show up to work versus how you show up and that goes for everyone you work with regardless of their gender. Make sure that you get to know your people on a personal level: What motivates them? How can you be more compassionate, see their talents and lift them up? We need to honor that individuality so that our people can be happy in both their personal and professional lives.
What career advice do you have for women just getting started in the industry?
I’d stress how important it is to know everything about your product: the beer you’re selling and how to sell it. Especially when working with wholesalers who have been in the industry longer than you have been alive! In my experience, education and knowledge equal respect, so, be a sponge! The more you know, the more confidence you build. I also would advise that it’s ok and brave to ask for what you want. If you don’t ask you’ll never know. Surround yourself with positive influences in your life. Find women that you aspire to who can be mentors in your career.
It’s ok to ask for what you want, if you don’t ask you’ll never know.
What contribution to the industry are you most proud of in your career?
I am really proud of the work I’ve done in people development. I'm always thinking about how to raise the bar for my employees and, in doing so, I have a great internal promotion rate for my team members. I try to remember that if they ever need anything - it’s my job to be their lead blocker - to get them what they need and also to see what they don’t even know they may need to thrive.
I’m proud of my participation in the groups within Boston Beer that support Working Mothers and Women in Beer. In these groups, we connect with younger generations in the industry to provide support that male managers can’t inherently offer. I love being a part of the Boston Beer family - there is something about the culture that is special, not just for women, but for everyone.
As the industry landscape changes, what would you like to see in the next 5 years?
I will have been in the industry for 15 years as of this summer, and it’s been a pleasant shift since I was one of few women beer suppliers when I started. There are some VERY strong and inspiring women in the industry as well as at Boston Beer, where we have an incredible team of diverse women from different backgrounds. Our owner, Jim Koch, has been extremely supportive of growing the number of women in the beer industry.
We have to continue to hire and promote women into leadership roles. When we do this we change the narrative and the perception that not only is it OK to be a woman in the industry, but it’s GREAT to be a woman in the industry.
What drink are you currently loving?
I always have two in my fridge! TRULY Strawberry Lemonade Seltzer and DogFish Head Vodka Lemonade.