An Insightful Hour with Diageo Bar Academy Director – Lam Chi Mun

Picture Credit: Diageo Bar Academy

Have you heard of Diageo Bar Academy? It is the training arm of Diageo and it strives to build up the professionalism and knowledge of all bar owners, bartenders and almost anyone who is interested to learn more about the bartending industry. Geek Flora has the privilege to meet one of the Diageo Bar Academy (DBA) directors, Mr Lam Chi Mun, during the visit to ProWineAsia 2018 and she managed to arrange for a chit-chat session with Mr Lam at Diageo Bar to understand more about what DBA is all about.

Training as the Backbone

DBA builds its backbone with the professional training that it is famous for. The Academy has a structured portfolio and courses that build up from one another to give a person the necessary training he or she needs to become an outstanding bartender in the global bar scene. In Singapore, many courses are available to the bartenders and they are able to gain access to many resources within the DBA’s courses.

In recent years, DBA also recognises the need for the common folks to learn more about the drinks they enjoyed. The Academy, therefore, opens an online portal where anyone who has an interest in bartending will be able to sign up and take their online courses at home for free. DBA’s structured courses allow the participants to understand basic steps in bartending and also to become his or her own bartender at home.

Moreover, if anyone is interested in opening a bar, DBA also provides training in the Business of Bars, where the owner or the team members can attend to better equip themselves with the knowledge of running a bar efficiently.

Know Your Liquid

Besides training, DBA also offers up other valuable information nuggets. For those who want to know more about the different liquids, DBA has what you need. You can pick your choice of liquid – Scotch whisky, vodka, gin and even baijiu – and DBA has the low-down for you. With a brief introduction of the liquid and its production to how it can be served, DBA’s knowledge vault is perfect for a knowledge-hungry you.

Bar Tools

In our opinions, one of the best things that DBA offers is the downloadable bar tools available on its website. From Facebook headers to festive menus, DBA offers a quick and easy way for bars to get a funky and attention-seeking menu for almost any occasion. It saves bar owners the time and efforts to come up with something new, and also help to reduce the operating cost of the bars with its ready-to-use tools.

World Class Competition

Most of us have heard of World Class Competition, but we are just not within the industry to truly understand the prestige that comes with it. It is possibly the reason why DBA started as Diageo wanted to help young bartenders around the world to grow their knowledge and, eventually, take part in the World Class competition.

That is the reason why DBA seeks out WSET to collaborate to build upon professional certification. WSET is an organisation based in the United Kingdom with a huge presence in many countries. With its reputation in the alcohol industry, WSET is the perfect organisation for Diageo to work with.

And that is where Mr Lam Chi Mun comes in.

Introducing Mr Lam Chi Mun

Mr Lam is DBA’s Asia Pacific Director. He has an extensive career as an educator and spends much of his life, learning and teaching in the alcohol industry. Mr Lam is a pioneer in many of the industry’s initiatives and is also one of the first who took the WSET course in Wines and Spirits in 1988-1989.

When Diageo approached Mr Lam to work together, Mr Lam was in his 20th year as an educator in Shatec. One thing led to another, and Mr Lam decided to join Diageo in its quest for education. Mr Lam’s position in Diageo is unique. He is the Asia Pacific Director in DBA, but he also works with WSET to bring forth training materials for the global training programs.

A typical day of work for Mr Lam

We ask Mr Lam about his typical day at work, and well, we got quite a stunning reply from him! He shares that he split his day into various parts. One of them is creating contents for education through the different agencies that deliver the lessons for the global students. He also ensures that the contents which go online to the DBA’s portal are suitable for the audience. Additionally, he also handles some of the marketing contents on social media.

Another part of his job is a little harder. He travels extensively and visits partner bars in the Asia Pacific region to find out if bartenders and staff in the bars require training. This part of the job is challenging as he needs to figure out a suitable time for these bartenders to attend training as they are always busy with one thing or another within their job scope. Therefore, Mr Lam needs a lot of patience and plenty of organisational skills to work with bar owners to arrange training sessions for their staff.

Once he identifies training needs, Mr Lam organises suitable training programs. He does some of the training himself and leaves the rest to his team of capable educators.

An Interesting Part about Mr Lam’s job

What we find interesting about this part of Mr Lam’s job is also the fact that it entangles itself with sales. Diageo freely trains the bartenders of a bar that signs a contract to house its products, and in return, the staff of the bar gets free training. In our opinions, this is a win-win situation. The bar becomes a partner of Diageo and with the free training, the staff becomes knowledgeable and is able to help sell more. Diageo benefits from the higher sales too, as the bar will buy more from them. In this way, Diageo makes partners and help them prosper whenever they sign a sales contract. It is not a one-sided benefit but one where the other party wins too.

Courses available for the common folks

Speaking to Mr Lam also make us curious about the different courses available in Singapore. So, on behalf of all of you who wants to advance your knowledge of spirits in general, we ask Mr Lam for suitable courses to recommend. Here are some of the courses that are useful:

  1. WSET Level 1 in Spirits
  2. WSET Level 2 in Spirits
  3. Diageo Bar Academy online courses

WSET Level 1 and 2 are available at Shatec and of course, the DBA’s online courses are available for anyone who signs up for it. For those of you who wish to start learning more, why not start with DBA’s online courses? They are designed for the busy folks who need to learn at their own pace so it is perfect for a start!

Live Webinar for Johnnie Walker Black Label

Talking about online courses, there is an upcoming live webinar for “Johnnie Walker Black Label and the Art of the Highball” on 26 June at 10 pm Singapore time (2 pm UTC). For those who wish to sign up and learn more about the art of making a perfect highball, you can register here. It is free so why not?

 

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