Interview with Hélène Weesie, MD of Guinness Ghana


Interview with Hélène Weesie, MD of Guinness Ghana

GNBCC is pleased to share this article on its premium member, Guinness Ghana, based on an interview with Managing Director (MD), Hélène Weesie.

Hélène Weesie, from Dutch origin, has been working in fast moving consumer goods for a significant amount of her years. She worked for five (5) years with Unilever, Twenty-One (21) years with Heineken and is currently in her 7th Year with Diageo. Diageo is a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands across spirits, RTD’s and beer. Diageo produces a wide range of over 200 international brands including Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Smirnoff and Baileys.

Hélène is fascinated about fast-moving consumer goods because she is constantly challenged to adapt to changing market situations and prepare the most attractive offer for her consumers. Being driven by her passion to explore new environments, different companies and diverse cultures, she embraces the opportunity to work in different parts of the world, as a result, Hélène has worked in Spain, Panama, Puerto Rico, Region Africa, Tanzania, Central Europe and is now the MD of Guinness Ghana.

About Guinness Ghana

In Ghana Heineken and Guinness started off as competitors, this competitive relationship took a different turn when these brands agreed to join arms and capabilities. Currently Guinness Ghana has the production and distribution license for Heineken brands such as Star, Gulder and ABC. Heineken beer is also part of the portfolio but remains imported. Guinness Ghana is a stock listed company in Ghana.

Guinness has had a longstanding history in Ghana, the global brand has operated in Ghana for 61 years. Regardless of its presence in several countries, Guinness translates the positioning of the brand, communication, support, and other activities to the local country. Products from Guinness Ghana are brewed and bottled in Ghana, the organization employs Ghanaians and utilizes raw materials from Ghana, making it proudly Ghanaian. Currently, Guinness Ghana has 2 breweries, one in Accra and another in Kumasi. In Ghana, Guinness works with over thirty thousand (30,000) local farmers from the Northern and South-Central areas of Ghana. In addition, these famers receive technical support, seeds and equipment to increase their yield and support their local communities.

What Accomplishment are you most proud of?

Hélène landed in Ghana just when the country had opened its borders again for foreign visitors amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a particularly challenging time due to the strict COVID Safety protocols employed by the Ghanaian government, although necessary, these measures made it difficult for new people, like Hélène, coming into the country, movement was restricted and hosting in-person business meetings were nearly impossible. Working on line, it was challenging to get to know the new team.

In the heat of the pandemic, the organization needed high levels of flexibility, with particularly sales & distribution moving to other channels than usual, i.e. to off trade and ecommerce as people were not going to bars anymore. Guinness Ghana quickly accommodated to the new normal in order to ensure that consumers could continue enjoying their beverages. Hélène is really proud of the team who despite the pandemic managed to deliver good business results.

In addition, Guinness Ghana has ambitious sustainability goals, which include engaging Ghanaian farmers, utilizing local raw materials, reducing its water and electricity usage and installing renewable energy sources such as solar panels.

Diageo and Guinness Ghana are likewise committed to diversity and inclusion, with the goal of creating a workforce that is 50% female and 50% male. While several smaller teams have met this goal, the company as a whole still has a way to go. Last year, Guinness Ghana increased its female representation from 17% to 21%, with the goal of reaching 25% by the end of 2021. As a result, women, in particular, are encouraged to apply for technical positions and positions in sales. Guinness Ghana aims to change the narrative and demonstrate that roles that are typically perceived of as 'male' can be very well handled by a woman as well.  As examples, the current Supply Chain Director, the Security Manager and the Brewery Manager are females, Hélène is the first female MD of Guinness Ghana.

Why did you join the chamber and what can you say about your experience?

GNBCC is an important connection point between Ghanaian and Dutch businesses and people. For foreign countries in Ghana or Ghanaian companies operating in the diaspora, it is key to explore markets and share knowledge and experiences, it is important to be connected to network like GNBCC because it provides the platform to network.

GNBCC also organizes events like Business Breakfast Meetings (inviting institutions such as the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA)) to spark dialogues and give presentations, events like these increases the knowledge and understanding of members concerning the market and new developments in the country.

What support do you expect from GNBCC Members and what do you hope to give in return?

For businesses, especially start-ups, that would like to get advice, Hélène brings a lot of experience and is happy to answer some questions related to commercial or business strategy. In addition, Guinness Ghana is open to occasionally sponsor certain GNBCC events. In return, Hélène hopes to learn from the GNBCC community, to enhance her knowledge about the Ghanaian market and build good business relationships.


We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Click here for more information about Guinness Ghana and catch up with Hélène during GNBCC’s member cocktails.  

GNBCC | News