Words by: Theodora Sutcliffe
Teaching physical education and working as a brand ambassador have more in common than you’d think, argues David Beatty, the Sydneysider who’s Ketel One’s brand ambassador for Europe. Inspired by his basketball coach – he’s 1.9 metres (6 foot 3 inches) tall – Beatty originally studied education at Sydney University with the goal of teaching little kids sports.
“There are very similar principles,” he says – and not only because wrangling a rowdy crowd of bartenders can be harder than dealing with 30 six-year-olds. “Lesson planning is such a key component of teaching: how you structure your training content and your presentations.”
Just as in a classroom, Beatty might notice three or four listeners tuning out and realise he has to turn it up. And learning theory comes in handy, too. “You’ve got visual learners, some people with auditory preferences for learning, kinaesthetic learners as well: people who need to learn by seeing people, who learn by reading, by listening, or who’ve got to get their hands on,” he explains. “So what you’re doing is hitting all the different elements.”
The lure of the bar caught Beatty before he could teach professionally, however. From dusty beginnings knocking out the Australian favourite lemon, lime and bitters at a tennis club, he worked his way up to bartending full time. His CV includes a stint at The Lincoln in Sydney’s Kings Cross, working alongside Zdenek Kastanek and George Nemec, Lotus in Potts Point, and the hugely influential Rockpool Bar & Grill, alongside Will Oxenham, now at Dante in New York.
Beatty had been working as a trainer and then an events manager for Behind Bars, Sven and Amber Almenning’s drinks consultancy, when he started looking for a change. “I was actually going to leave Australia for London: I had a bar job lined up,” he says. “And then Sven offered me this new Ketel One role that had come up.”
As Australian brand ambassador, Beatty criss-crossed the vast country and discovered the joy of content creation, helping to take the Ketel One Fraternity bartending association national. “A lot of other countries around the world picked up that concept and started implementing fraternities in their own markets, so that was great to see,” he notes.
When the option of a move to London to be Ketel One’s UK brand ambassador came up, Beatty jumped at it. “I really wanted to get out of the country and experience living and working overseas, so it was good timing in more ways than one,” he recalls. “I thought that if I didn’t leave Australia at that time I never would – which wouldn’t be a bad thing. But I didn’t want to regret a few years later never having packed up and moved somewhere else to make a go of furthering my career.”
Which isn’t to say there weren’t some second thoughts. Beatty vividly recalls being in a taxi from the airport at 5am with all his possessions and wondering what he’d done – but Justin Smyth, then Ketel One’s global brand ambassador, said he could stay with him for as long as he needed. As UK brand ambassador, he’s proud to have helped create the Ketel One Kitchen, a third space concept that blends the kitchen at a house party with the traditional Dutch home, and another idea that’s being replicated in countries around the world.
While Beatty’s teaching qualification comes in handy when training and his events experience has proved invaluable for a job that involves managing a lot of resources, it’s the creative side of the role that most appeals. “The more I've done this, the more I've found that my passion is with creating and building,” Beatty says. “So whether that's content for training or for our third space executions like our Ketel One Kitchen or Ketel One Kitchen Discos, it's great to have a challenge and a brief and sit down and find solutions and bring it to life. You work with great agencies and great people to build it, create it and see it realized.”
With the promotion to European brand ambassador came another move, to England’s second city, Manchester. “I’d been in London for four years. I’ve got a fiancée and a 3.5-year-old daughter, and we’re expecting another child in spring next year,” Beatty says. “London is an amazing city but it’s pretty expensive and can be pretty intense. So the move up to Manchester was about slowing down the side of life we could control and getting a better quality of life for the family.”
Being based in Manchester also gives Beatty more time to cover the UK’s vibrant northern and central cities, as well as hopping over to Europe. Sometimes he’s home only a couple of days in a fortnight; at other times of year, he gets extensive stints to be dad.
His favourite market to visit? The Netherlands, of course. “It’s the first European country I went to as a Ketel One ambassador, all the Ketel One family and team are based there, and I’m taking bartenders and customers over to the Nolet Distillery and hosting tours around there all the time,” he says.
And, despite the fact that Beatty lives 17,000 kilometres from the place of his birth, he’s found a second home in Schiedam. “There’s just all these amazing people in and around the Ketel One brand and the Nolet family. When I come to visit the Nolet Distillery, bringing people over, Bob comes over and gives me a hug and says, ‘Welcome home,’” he says. “I guess that’s really important to me and a big reason why I’ve stuck with one brand for so long: having these great people around it is what keeps me here with them.”
European Brand Ambassador