Lead Responsibly: An Absolut

Ann Mukherjee, Chairwoman and CEO of Pernod Ricard North America, provided this article as a companion to her podcast Lead Responsibly: An Absolut.

Once considered a solitary journey, achieving professional growth and success can be deeply enriched through building strong relationships with others. Cultivating trust and seeking support from collaborators is invaluable in helping you reach your career goals.

As both a mentor and a mentee, I’ve experienced the critical role that mentorship can play in helping individuals develop the skills and qualities necessary to become leaders. Effective mentors empower their mentees to find purpose in the work they’re doing, ensure they forge their own unique path to success and help them unleash their potential to achieve the impossible.

Mentors can come in a variety of forms, from leaders you admire, to a coworker who advocates for you. What’s most important is that they are individuals with whom you can be your authentic self behind closed doors. They tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Your mentor should encourage you to think critically about your actions, develop a crucial sense of self-awareness, and identify your strengths and areas of improvement. Through regular engagement with mentors, individuals at all levels can learn different leadership styles to transform into a purposeful leader.

Throughout my career, my mentors have imparted valuable lessons that have played a crucial role in shaping my leadership style. These lessons have been instrumental in helping me guide and mentor others. Here are the three most impactful lessons that I have learned from my mentors, which have defined my leadership philosophy:


  1. Lead with Your ‘Why’: Simply put – a purposeful leader must be engrossed by a personal sense of motivation which drives you and what you stand for. Early in my career, my mentors emphasized that finding my ‘why’ was critical to differentiating myself and reinforcing to key stakeholders I was a leader they could trust. It has served me well in my journey to operating an organization that cares about more than just the bottom line.


  1. Develop Resiliency: I make it a priority to nurture resilience in all my mentees because I believe it is a critical attribute for purposeful leadership. In today’s constantly changing economic and societal landscape, leaders who can guide their organizations through adversity and inspire adaptability are more likely to succeed and retain top talent.


  1. Discard the Traditional Leadership Model: As a mentor and purposeful leader, we are tasked with creating the benchmark of tomorrow’s leaders while meeting the diverse needs and demands of our stakeholders, including our employees. Being a “traditional” leader is no longer adequate to grow a business. Employees are looking to buy into their leaders’ philosophy, and consumers are motivated to buy into responsible brands that leave a sustainable impact. This can only be done once we establish a higher-order goal for our business that unites and clarifies our ambition in service of our financial targets. When married with personal and corporate resilience, purpose can be used to advance our mission and our bottom line in new and engaging ways.


Mentorship has defined my purposeful leadership at Pernod Ricard and in fact, it is what initially brought me to this organization – even as an industry outsider. Mentorship has empowered me to bring my whole self to work and lend my story to campaigns like Absolut Vodka’s #SexResponsibly, raising awareness around a crucial issue that our industry not only has the responsibility to address, but the power to change. The issue is one close to my heart, and I knew that my story would ground the campaign in the authenticity it deserved. Without the motivation of my mentors, I would not have had the confidence to take such a personal risk, and lead Pernod Ricard North America with purpose.



Ann Mukherjee joined PRNA (Pernod Ricard) as CEO in December 2019. An industry outsider and woman of color, Ann is focused on delivering both ROI and ROR (return on responsibility). She’s advanced the business through ambiguity, driving a transformation rooted in the science of predictable consumer demand and guiding PRNA to record-breaking profits in 2021. Ann has launched award-winning brand campaigns and initiatives around consent, voting and hate speech. Ann has been recognized by Forbes 2022 ‘50 over 50’; Forbes’ Top 50 Most Influential CMOs; ADCOLOR’s Legend Award and was inducted into the American Marketing Association’s Marketing Hall of Fame.



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Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

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