Beam Suntory, a world leader in premium spirits, has named the University of Kentucky MBA and Gatton College of Business alum Victoria Russell as its first Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer effective January 11th, 2021.

“We are determined to build a workforce that looks more like our consumers, and we’ve set ambitious goals to accelerate the progress we’re making,” said Beam Suntory CEO Albert Baladi. “The people of Beam Suntory are passionate about continuing to build our diverse and inclusive culture, and we’ve created the position of Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer to elevate our approach. I’m delighted Victoria will take on this important leadership role, and I’m confident that she is the leader who can help take our work to the next level as she works hand-in-hand with our brand teams, Employee Impact Groups, and leaders across the business.”

In this newly created role, Victoria will join the company’s Senior Leadership Team and lead diversity and inclusion across talent acquisition, career development and employee retention, marketing, community relations, and building organizational capacity to better recognize bias and further drive an inclusive mindset. Victoria will also support the development of diversity guidelines for the company’s supplier base and will work directly with Employee Impact Groups and leaders across the business.

“We are very excited to welcome a D&I leader of Victoria’s caliber to Beam Suntory,” Paula Erickson, Chief Human Resources Officer at Beam Suntory said. “She is a high-impact leader with a solid track record of performance not only across business but also the community. Her talents and expertise will allow us to accelerate our efforts as we build a diverse and inclusive culture as a source of strategic competitive advantage.”

Victoria joins Beam Suntory following a successful 14-year career at Louisville, KY-based Papa John’s International, ultimately being the first to lead Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the brand. In that role, Victoria was credited with step-changing the company’s actions to build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization comprised of 120,000 team members. Victoria previously held marketing analytics roles of increasing responsibility, providing valuable insights into the business, and the customers and communities they serve.

“I am thrilled to be joining Beam Suntory at this critical moment for businesses, and for our society,” Victoria said. “Beam Suntory's leaders understand both the economic and equitable benefits to fully embracing inclusivity as a strategic imperative, not just for our organization, but for our industry and society at large. I am honored to bring stewardship to this evolving journey."

Prior to Papa Johns, Victoria held compensation and marketing roles at Lexmark, Humana, and Brown-Forman. She has been recognized as a “Woman Making a Difference,” and selected as one of Louisville’s 40 Under 40. Victoria received both her Bachelor's degree in Marketing and MBA from the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics.

This story was originally posted on Beam's website here. Read more about Victoria Russell in the Transform magazine.