Maggie Timoney: Shattering the Glass Ceiling in the Beer Industry

February 1 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Jump for Beer

You know how back in the day, Yahoo! Answers would show some super dumb questions, but also ones you wish you could ask someone? Those queries still exist in 2019. Shout out to the peeps unafraid of asking the World Wide Web their thoughts on everything from dating someone shorter than you to whether or not bread is alcoholic, since it contains the same ingredients as beer. As silly as some of these musing might be (spoiler: most of the alcohol in bread evaporates during the baking process. The more you know, right?) I commend those who are wise enough to know they don’t know everything. Today, ask a stupid question, and know that others around you might be glad you did.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: About 30 Percent

If you do partake in alcohol of the beer—not the bread—variety, what’s your go-to bottle of suds? In 2018, adults from the age of 18 to 29 were surveyed about their drinking habits. About 30 percent said they’ve had an ice-cold Heineken in the last three months. You know, that’s the brand with the recognizable green bottles. This beer biz dates back to 1864, when a guy named Gerard Adriaan Heineken founded the company at the age of 22 with financial help from his mother.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Maggie Timoney, First Female CEO of Heineken USA

About a decade later, a doctor developed Heineken’s signature yeast. Since then, Heineken has hit international shelves and homes, becoming a major sponsor of the Rugby World Cup and the official beer for the FIA Formula One World Championship. Oh yeah, and the brand was featured in seven consecutive James Bond movies. Of course, that kind of influence means people like the stuff, but it also means people are consistently working diligently to make Heineken a household name.

Maggie Timoney is one of those people and today’s Woman to Watch. Does her name surprise you? It should. She’s the first woman to be CEO of Heineken USA. Funny, huh? Considering a woman helped fund the initial operation. But that’s neither here nor there. Maggie can slam a pint with the best of them and keep profits up with more than a quarter-century of experience.

Back in 1998, Maggie joined Heineken’s American division to work on sales, strategic planning and distribution. From there, she dashed to the Netherlands to act as Distribution Manager, and then later to Canada’s division. Now, as the first female CEO of Heineken USA, Maggie wants you to get one thing straight: Stop calling her the first female CEO. (No, seriously.)

Like so many other women who are shattering glass ceilings in the beer industry, Maggie wants to be viewed as a peer and regarded in the same way male CEOs are: simply as CEOs. She shared a startling episode that occurred at an industry event, which demonstrates how others might perceive her in the industry: During an event for the National Beer Wholesalers Association, a guy came up to her and remarked the event was a “circus,” and that Maggie was the “freak at the circus.”

While I dare say the bulk of us would’ve reacted to those remarks with tears or rage, Maggie did something different. She shared the story on stage, observing how ridiculous of a statement it was. After all, the Heineken Americas region president hired Maggie because of her competence, her energy, and her ability to mobilize employees to get results. And in her revolutionary new role, that’s exactly what she’ll do.


As Maggie Timoney said:

"I'll be judged on my results, not on whether I'm male or female. ... I was put in this job not because I am a woman. I was put in this job because Amsterdam believed in me."

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