Sr. Manager, Spirit Innovation Lead

Date: Feb 17, 2024

Location: Loretto, KY, US

Company: Beam Suntory

Bill Sr. & Margie Samuels created Maker’s Mark in 1953,  with a founding vision to make a bourbon that was flavorful, complex and enjoyable to drink.  Since that initial vision Maker’s Mark has evolved to become a global icon, and every bottle of Maker’s Mark is hand crafted, staying true to the legacy of the founders.  As the largest bourbon distillery in the world to join the B Corp global community, our impact starts with our people. Each employee is treated like family, and trusted with the Founder’s Vision & Legacy. 


Position Summary:  The Spirit Innovation Lead is a key leader in crafting our future products and experiences, while protecting existing brand equity, to drive the incremental growth in our business and position Maker’s Mark as thought leader in spirits.  This role covers both innovation, blending & continuous improvement activities to create new innovations and enhance liquid quality & consistency to delight consumers for long-term value creation. 


What makes this a great opportunity?
The role of Spirit Innovation Lead provides a platform for personal & professional development in a wide range of areas as this role will interact with many cross-functional partners within the organization which allows for potential career growth while supporting the Company’s needs. Liquid Innovation & quality are key components of our brand, and this role will focus on consistency, improvement & innovation to delight our consumers.


Position Responsibilities:

  • Lead new-to-world innovation pipeline creation & activities, in-line with our Founder’s Vision and in partnership with other Maker’s Mark departmental teams & Global/centralized resources, to create & manage liquid innovation projects from concept to commercialization phase.
  • Partner with Innovation Commercialization & Star Hill Farm teams to push boundaries and agricultural aspects related to spirit innovation, and be an active participant in academic partnerships & programs related to regenerative agriculture.
  • Responsible for delivering medium-to-high level complexity projects on-time, in-full, at cost & quality --- escalating project issues and opportunities at the correct moments throughout. 
  • Responsible for day-to-day lab inventory management, experimentation, sampling & lab batching. 
  • Must bring resilient, optimistic leadership for self & team to push through tacit resistance to liquid innovation, quality &/or continuous improvement ideas that this team drives.
  • Proficient in laboratory analytical techniques, data analysis & project/timeline management, or willing to become proficient.
  • Able to partner & influence a wide variety of stakeholders with effective communication of technical data with both internal & external stakeholders (Suppliers).
  • May interact with Customers & Consumers, in a limited manner, at the Distillery.
  • Effective and creative problem solver, capable of anticipating and working independently on projects and miscellaneous assignments.
  • Able to be a meaningful owner – comfortable with responsibility for significant innovation leadership and results delivery.
  • Supports and adhere to the job requirements for the department with regards to Quality, Food Safety, Environmental, Health, and Safety regulations and fully support the company IMS objectives and initiatives. 
  • Assist Innovation, Blending & Quality team with other projects as assigned. The Innovation & Blending Lead, will be expected to help shape the full scope of the role and responsibilities in coordination with the Sr. Manager, Innovation & Blending and the Head of Innovation, Blending & Quality.

Qualifications & Experience

  • B.S., M.S. or Ph.D. in Scientific, Technical, or related fields with specific Quality, Distillation, Maturation, Sensory &/or Processing experience a strong desire.  Preferred with 2+ years of experience, or B.S. degree with 4+ years’ experience.  
  • Preferred experience in creating, planning, and executing research or innovation projects in highly complex plants and environments, to deliver on-time results. 
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills, including timely self-staring follow-up and commitment to deliverables, and openness to give & receive feedback for improvement – sometimes with difficult external partners.
  • Ability to think & lead strategically, preform structured analysis of complex data, act ethically, and strong business/financial acumen.
  • Preferred experience with team budgets, procurement procedures, material inventory management, manufacturing methods, multiple plant operations, and planning strategies.
  • Preferred experience with some market, commercial, advocacy experience or understanding.
  • Demonstrated experience working across and up, within the organization, gaining credibility amongst managers, peers, and other leadership with a cooperative & persuasive leadership style.
  • Demonstrated ability to build and maintain a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture within Maker’s Mark & broader Beam Suntory.
  • Team player with mentality to listen, partner & support broader team & cross-functional peers.  A personal self-starter, who is flexible & comfortable working in unstructured fast-paced environment with the ability to manage multiple priorities.
  • Ability to travel domestically, to partner in project work with internal & external clients, as well as support implementation at Beam Suntory facilities – travel <25% between local KY operations, Chicago/NYC corporate offices, and balance of other locations. 
  • Role is 100% Distillery based, with some ability to work from home, as business needs allow.   


Physical Demands and Work Environment:
•    Physical Demands: While performing the duties of this job, the employee is required to:

  • Sit, use hands and fingers, talk and hear
  • Near and far vision correctable
  • Climbing stairs
  • Moderate lifting and carrying of 15 – 44 lbs.
  • Reaching above shoulders
  • Use of both legs
  • Ability to recognize basic color, shades of color and depth perception


•    Work Environment: The employee will encounter the following environmental factors while performing the job:

  • Inside and outside activity
  • Excessive heat, humidity, and dry atmospheric conditions
  • Intermittent, excessive noise
  • Slippery or uneven walking surfaces
  • Working around moving objects, machinery and vehicles
  • Working around electrical energy, abrasive chemicals, solvents (degreasing agents), grease and oils



At Beam Suntory, people are our number one priority, and we believe our people grow together in diverse and inclusive environments where their unique insights, experiences and backgrounds are valued and respected. Beam Suntory is committed to equal employment opportunity regardless of race, color, ancestry, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, marital status, disability, gender identity, military veteran status and all other characteristics, attributes or choices protected by law. All recruitment and hiring decisions are based on an applicant’s skills and experience.