Committing to reach the high standards set by our Better World goals means finding the right people to see those campaigns through. As Global Manager, Corporate Affairs, that’s a considerable part of Samantha Fahrbach’s job.
“Mainly, my work is focused on the four Global Smart Drinking Goals that we set in 2015, which focus on making sure every experience with our beer is positive and that we have an actual measurable contribution to making sure consumer behavior is responsible,” explains Samantha.
The initiative’s main components are broken down to focus on different areas of influence. The first, known as the Global City Pilots program, aims to reduce the harmful use of alcohol by 10% in six pilot cities by working alongside experts. The second objective is seeking to influence social norms and behaviors surrounding alcohol consumption by investing $1 billion by 2025 in social projects.“One of the ways we’ve approached this goal is by running an internal Smart Drinking competition with our employees,” explains Samantha. “I’ve been involved in helping the zones put together submissions and then reviewing and selecting them. It’s really motivating our colleagues to use their creative processes.”
A third goal of the program is expansion of the product portfolio so that 20% of volume will be low (3.5% or less) or no alcohol by 2025. “This is about empowering consumers with choice,” explains Samantha. “We’re piloting a message of ‘pace your drinking’ by swapping a beer for a low- or non-alcoholic product every other drink. I engage cross-functionally with our strategy and marketing teams to put together a road map for this.”
The final goal revolves around increasing alcohol literacy. For Samantha, this means asking what type of information consumers need to make smarter drinking choices and how to convey it. “This, like most of our goals, focuses on the social norms aspect and how we can implement this on a digital platform. A large part of our work is to figure out how we can roll this out on packaging and on the website.”
Although Samantha has impressive career credentials working for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and in the defense industry, her arrival at AB InBev was through a more direct experience: While completing graduate work at the MIT Sloan School of Management, she took part in the company’s Global MBA program. “That program is a huge attraction,” she explains. “It gave me an opportunity to really learn the culture and the company firsthand and gave me an opportunity to see what I could bring here. I feel really fortunate that I got an offer to come back full time.”
Samantha feels her experience working with the company ever since has proven that the unique culture of self-motivation and openness are genuine keys to its success and a testament to its commitment to being a force for good in the world. “A key piece of the culture here is having ownership over your work,” she says. “My last job was a very different environment with a hard line of top down control; Here, there’s more opportunity to be creative on solving a problem or achieving a goal. You can lead no matter what level you’re at in the company.”
What’s more, this sense of forging your own path has only been heightened by the magnitude of the company itself. “AB InBev is a truly global company with an incredible footprint that has expanded even since my time here as an intern in 2016. We’re not only working cross departmentally but cross culturally. It’s really exciting to be a part of the conversations with our teams in different zones around the world.”
Samantha believes it’s these two principles of open communication and shared commitment to initiatives that make AB InBev a special place to work. “People at the company are very empowered by own their goals from start to finish and go around achieving what they’d like to achieve,” she says. “We also operate with a level of informality and I’ve been able to engage with senior leadership, not just in a conference room meeting way but in a very open way. There’s a real openness that allows you to engage management to influence change.”
And it’s not just the relative informality that makes her work rewarding — she finds motivation every day in making a difference. “I’m inspired whenever I see results come in from some of our projects because it’s actual lives that have been saved,” she says. “These are people with families, and who are members of communities. The reach of this company means we have a real opportunity to impact people’s lives all over the world. This is a group of individuals whose lives we can improve. I keep that in mind even though these people may be physically far from where I sit in New York City.”
When Samantha looks to the future, she says that she’s most excited to see the social norms campaigns and smart drinking campaigns continue to roll out. “There’s been a heightened level of creativity and potential for impact,” she explains. “It’s one thing to see them come together in the boardroom, and then another to see them impacting people’s lives.” She’s also excited about advances in the digital world and the increased impact that it can have on ongoing campaigns. “Digital is a genuine new challenge for the company. Thinking through how we can use this space to change consumer behavior is a new territory for us and our partners. I’m just super excited for the potential for this sector and to be able to scale it more broadly.”
With all things considered, Samantha says that she feels confident that she’s someplace where her hard work will pay off in a meaningful way. “One of the things that inspired me to come here were opportunities for real impact at a global scale,” she says. “Any decisions made here toward sustainability can truly move the needle on serious issues that impact society. It’s really great to be a part of a company that sees this impact through on the ground.”