International Women's Day 2024

Pooja Patel, Process Engineer at Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, on why sharing our stories matters and the increased diversity in the industry

Pooja, a passionate believer in inclusion and representation in the industry and a keen brewer, tells us about her career and the support she received from the community.

Que. What interested you in a career in the brewing and distilling industry? 

Pooja: I have a B. tech in biotechnology at a university in India which included a course in food technology. The fermentation aspect of food technology really got my attention. After I graduated, I went travelling around America for 6 months. The craft beer scene in California was particularly amazing, and that is where my love of beer started and it solidified my interest in pursuing a career in brewing.  


Que: What were some of challenges you faced initially and how have things changed? 

Pooja: Brewing and distilling is a very male dominated industry. With only 5% of brewers in UK being women, it can make it look like a less appealing industry for women. Initially, it was overwhelming and hard to navigate my way into the production side of industry. Sometimes, like any other industry, women have to work much harder to prove their worth.  

However, there has been a big shift that I can see since I started my career.  Having women at different management levels in the brewery does help in inspiring women to become part of the industry. Today I see women as master brewers of trappiest brewery such as Orval, Women IBD president and more. This shift is great to see. It is genuinely inspiring. I strongly believe that when there are women in position of power, they create opportunity for other women. I have experienced that, and that structural shift is so important. There has been a lot of improvement in the industry with diversity, but we still have lots of work to do.  


Que: How has the community supported you in your journey? 

Pooja: I came to UK for my Masters in brewing and distilling at Heriot watt university in Edinburgh. So, the IBD has been a big part of my brewing career from the beginning. Networking at events organised by IBD has given me a lot of exposure and allowed me to meet many amazing and knowledgeable people in the industry. Brewing and distilling is such a small and friendly industry, that I do not hesitate to seek help from other people in business when I need to. IBD brings us all together, socialise and get to know each other.  

I have been also doing Master brewer course with the IBD, and I have colleagues working on Diplomas so there are lots of resources available to people to get started in the industry from the IBD.  

Que: Tell us about a moment which you felt was significant for you in your career? 

Pooja: I would like to share my very recent experience here. I was recently invited by Lucky Saint brewery to be part of there women’s day panel to share my side of view of the industry. I felt that this was very significant considering women comprise only 5% of brewing professionals and we need to be out there. Starting as a brewer to making my way to process engineer at AB InBev is the journey that I would like to share even if it inspires just one woman to pursue their interest in brewing. Sharing our experiences and mentoring others who want to be part of the industry is important, so that we can make it better for other young women planning their career in brewing industry.  


Que: What would you say to a young woman looking to start a career in the drinks industry? 

Pooja: I would say that you will hear from lot of people how hard it is to be part of brewing industry being women, and I would filter out those conversation if drinks industry interests you because it is also very rewarding. Be confident and don’t have self-doubt in your abilities, go for the job you want to pursue in the beverage industry even if you think you don’t have the right qualification. It has become easy to transfer your skills in any position in the industry. We all need to start somewhere. Also, never stop learning, brewing and distilling industry is constantly evolving. The day you decide to stop learning it will become hard to keep growing in the industry.