Spotlight On: James Keane, PR & Promotions Manager

James ‘Jimmy’ Keane is a valued member of our Barossa Valley based brand sites team, and recently celebrated his 25-year anniversary with the company. As PR & Promotions Manager, Jimmy hosts a variety of local and international guests from within the business and externally. We sat down with Jimmy to find out more.

* Congratulations on celebrating 25 years with the company! Can you tell us a bit about how you started out with the company?

It seems like only yesterday that I joined the company. I’ve been in the wine industry for 38 years. When I first started out, I always used to look at Jacob’s Creek and think ‘wouldn’t it be great to work for Jacob’s Creek. They have the best point of sale and displays, and they’ve got the nicest sales people’.

I was actually in traction in hospital, I’d hurt my back, and these two guys from Orlando [now Pernod Ricard Winemakers] came to see me. I knew both for years and they asked if I’d like to work for Orlando!

My earliest memory of the company was that I had one of the first company cars that had a radio and a cassette player! It’s been a good 25 years and I feel quite humbled by the whole experience.

I do a lot of inductions these days and a lot of new starters ask me why I have settled in the one place. The reason is that I think it’s a very good company to work for, with lots of great people and I’ve always had good bosses.

* What do you enjoy about working for Pernod Ricard?

I’m humbled that our brands and the stories behind our brands are so strong and still very much a focus for us.

I’m always telling people nice stories; the history of our state as a colony, the history of the Gramp family, the beginnings of our company’s story in Australia, and the story of the Barossa. We are the caretakers of our heritage and we have the blessing of the original families. They are very thankful that they have a family heritage that is being cared for, and as a result, we have a wonderful archive with all their family history in it. It’s our duty to look after that. Our stories are not contrived.

* Do you have a favourite memory?

One of my favourite memories was when Stephen Couche [former Managing Director, Orlando Wines] asked me to apply for my current role. I took over from a man called Bruce Theile and I didn’t really want to because nobody could ever replace the wonderful, kind and generous Bruce.

Being made a True Legend of the business was also a very special moment – it was the business saying that ‘we think you’re doing a great job’. I absolutely love what I do and then I get made a true legend – that was my proudest moment. Humbling but one full of pride.

* One area that many people struggle with is balancing work life with family. How do you achieve balance?

I’ve always had a good work life balance. I don’t have stress in my life. My wife died of breast cancer 11 years ago and she was a very strong woman, which taught me a lot, such as being happy in your own skin – I’m not fighting to get to the top of everything. I’ve remarried now, and Hilary and I have a beautiful garden and a great library of books that we love. For me, balance is about knowing when to switch off and I’m fortunate in my role that I can do that when I go home. I also love my glass of Riesling when I get home!

* Who was your role model growing up?

My father was my role model – he was a gentle person who never raised his voice. He was born on armistice day and would have turned 100 on the 11th November. I remember on my wedding day he said to me that he and my mother never fought because they discussed everything. He told me to evaluate what’s worth fighting for and that if you feel strongly about something let it be heard but keep your head.

* Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve worked around a lot of really good people. We get lots of positive feedback from wine bodies and international guests around our visitations, and we hire people that are really good at their job and that makes a big difference. We all get along really well and it’s a pleasure to go to work when the people around you are fantastic.

The nicest part of my role is that I get to host our inductions – I meet lots of new people, young people – they are the future. It’s a great company and our brands are in good health because of the people around them. I love induction days – they’re the best days!

Congratulations Jimmy!