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Dec 8, 2020

Meet Our CEO: Hiroaki Kitaoka’s Lifelong Journey in the Beer Industry

Can you imagine what it would be like to develop your entire career in the beer industry, from starting as a new grad to becoming CEO and President of one of Canada’s largest national breweries? Today we’re getting the inside scoop on this incredible career journey from our new CEO and President, Hiroaki Kitaoka. Take a look at the below Q&A to learn about his exciting, lifelong journey in the beer industry.

Can you tell us a little about your career story? How did you get to where you are today?

I’ve been involved in the beer industry since I was in university. It was during this time that I started a beer bar business that was jointly funded by my close friends. And after graduating university, I wanted to stay in the beer industry so I joined the Sapporo Beer team. Fast forward to today, and I’ve been working for Sapporo Beer for 25 years!

My career journey with Sapporo Beer has provided me with various roles and opportunities. I started as a Sales Representative and held this position for 15 years, both in Japan and in the United States. After this role, I joined the marketing team and worked for 10 years as the director in charge of developing products and brand marketing strategies.

Most recently, I was looking for a new challenge so I decided to work abroad again and I joined the amazing Sleeman Breweries team as President and CEO.

Why did you join Sleeman Breweries?

One of the main reasons I was so eager to join the Sleeman Breweries team is because of its unique brand and storied history. I’m sure that most people who are involved in marketing in the beer industry feel similarly about Sleeman Breweries.

Another reason I joined Sleeman Breweries is for my own personal goal to grow professionally with this team. I am committed to continuing to make this a successful company for our employees, our customers, and for Canadian society.

Can you tell us about what your team works on?

My direct team includes the National Management Team (NMT)) and in turn all of their direct reports. The role of the NMT is to make decisions and ensure accountability from their respective teams. The NMT assumes full responsibility for the company’s growth.

My team is also responsible for the following:

  • We direct the vision of the company to ensure our employees are healthy and happy
  • We develop the overall company strategy and monitor its progress
  • We ensure our vision meets the needs and goals of our employees

Overall, the NMT is responsible for leading the business in the right direction and ensuring that our employees are working towards the company’s mission, vision, and values.

How would you describe the culture at Sleeman?

We share an entrepreneurial spirit and a love for craft beer. Sleeman Breweries feels like a family. Our culture has evolved over the years, but we continue to have a rich history.

Why should people want to join Sleeman and who do you think succeeds here?

Sleeman Breweries is a great company and if your values, personal growth, committent, and vision align well with ours, then you will be a great fit for our team! At the end of the day, our goal is to support our employees personal wellbeing and ensure company success.

Thanks for sharing your journey with us, Hiroaki!

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