“I believe in better performance in balanced teams”
Meet Anna Schreil, the woman at the head of probably the biggest production site across the whole Spirit industry, delivering 160 million bottles of Absolut worldwide from Ahus, in Sweden.
What is your professional course?
My professional course is, and has always been, guided by curiosity and interest in learning new things and people. I have found my own “path”, rather than “climbing the rock-face straight up”
I studied chemical engineering and started my work life as a trainee in a multinational food company. I stayed there for more than 12 years, and worked in many different roles. I then joined The Absolut Company and Pernod Ricard in 2011, first as Director of Product Development and R&D, and in 2014 I was appointed VP of Operations of Absolut.
Isn’t Production a a traditionally masculine world ?
I don’t believe there are things like “women’s job” or “men’s job”. I believe in talent, mindset and empowerment. And I also believe that balanced teams mean better performance. Not only when in comes to gender by the way, but also when it comes to age, background and education.
You moved with your family to Ahus, a small town in Sweden. How hard is it to balance private and professional life?
We saw the move as an exciting opportunity and also as a bit adventurous. New jobs, new schools, new community and getting to know new people - all very exciting but indeed also a transition. It was a decision we made together and we don’t regret it for a minute.
In a small village like Åhus, you meet colleagues and business partners everywhere, also outside of work; on the street, in school picking up kids, at sport events. For me this is what life in a small community is about.
Did you ever suffer discrimination during your career?
Not often, but a few times. In my early days of work life, I remember a person asking the group I was in to look after and protect me, since I was the only woman. And I have been asked to represent the “women perspective” in meetings if I was the only woman there. In situations like that, I have always tried to be quick to respond “If you want my perspective, I am happy to share. If you want the perspective from all the women in the world – please ask all of them”. Situations like that never happened at TAC, where we work actively against any kind of discriminations.
How is it to be in charge of probably the world largest production plant of spirits?
If you ask me, I probably have the best job in the world, surrounded by the best colleagues you can imagine. I am proud and I feel privileged to be part of such a great team. Our vision is “passion for progression”, we strive for continuous improvements in everything we do. TAC has always been very keen on people, quality and sustainability. And that journey will continue.
What advice would you have liked to hear at the beginning of your career?
Be curious! Learn something new every day. If opportunities arise, don’t underestimate yourself and your capabilities. No one is an expert from the beginning, but we can all learn! So - train your ability to learn! And if people put trust in you, put trust in yourself and others as well. And don’t forget to have fun!