Global spirits leader Beam Suntory provides continuous formal and on-the-job education to its employees – building knowledge around industry trends that support effective leadership skills. Whether it’s an employee in a technical role that requires a deeper understanding of the business or a new manager who is seeking skills to think strategically across functions, employees have unique learning needs based on personal background and education.

To meet their education needs, the University of Louisville College of Business recently worked with Beam Suntory to develop “Leading with Spirit,” a professional development program customized to the company’s and its employees’ needs. The program is built on UofL’s existing distilled spirits business certificate, with content added in project management and leading change.

Beam Suntory employees benefit from courses led by industry experts and a compressed 16-week, non-credit curriculum that can be completed regardless of previous educational background.

“Our employees are deeply knowledgeable in their specific areas of the business and want to apply their background to the nuances of the spirits industry,” said Nicki Clifton, senior human resources director, Supply Chain at Beam Suntory. “We are proud to provide a learning opportunity to them through the UofL College of Business and appreciate this partnership which supports our employees and their development goals.”

A pilot cohort for Leading with Spirit launched in October with 10 Beam Suntory employees. The new certificate program adds industry-specific leadership and strategic management education to the employees’ resumes in just a few months, a much faster and more cost effective solution than traditional degree programs.

The UofL College of Business has expertise in developing customized, industry-specific programs such as the new certificate for Beam Suntory to meet industry needs.

The original Distilled Spirits Business Certificate is an online certificate offered to graduate students that provides credits toward the completion of an MBA. Developed to meet the needs of Kentucky’s important distilled spirits industry, the certificate covers regulations, sales and distribution, operations and supply chain management, sustainability and brand marketing. It is believed to be the only distilled spirits business certificate in the U.S.


Beam Suntory is a global premium spirits company headquartered in New York. It produces Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbons in Kentucky, Hibiki Japanese whisky in Japan and more than 70 other spirits brands worldwide. Its 5,700 employees are in more than 90 locations on five continents.


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