Unleash Your Spirit: Eli Johnson

When Eli Johnson isn’t embarking on an adventure like ash boarding down a live volcano in Nicaragua, scuba diving, or riding his motorcycle on open freeways, he’s in his San Francisco home enjoying cooking, music or exercising.


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Originally from Litchfield, Illinois, Johnson is in Northern California, where he is Manager — Territory Sales at Beam Suntory, a world leader in premium spirits. He manages a team of seven, which covers both on and off premise accounts, meaning all bars, restaurants, and retail stores that are not chain-based in that area.

Johnson began his career in tax accounting, though he recalls that he “quickly realized I was not going to enjoy the cubicle life,” he said.

“In my past roles, I was hungry to win and run across the finish line,” Johnson said. “This role has given me the opportunity to analyze what I learned and how to effectively pass along the knowledge. I love hearing the excitement from my team when they have successes, and it feels good to know that I’ve helped mentor the future of Beam Suntory.”

Johnson is also a co-leader of Beam Suntory’s newly created Asian Employee Impact Group (EIG), Harmony. Beam Suntory’s six EIGs are similar to Business Resource Groups at other organizations, generally organized around a shared racial/ethnic culture or affinity. Beam Suntory’s EIGs were formed to help the organization develop, recruit, retain and invest in diverse talent as well as create an inclusive workplace culture.

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In his leadership role, Johnson strives to create awareness about Asian culture and identify effective ways of positioning Beam Suntory brands in front of a growing consumer base.

Beam Suntory’s long-term D&I ambitions include 50 percent women in leadership, 45 percent racial and ethnic representation in the US, and equally evaluating what and how people execute their work. In addition to his leadership of Harmony, Johnson strives to be as aware as possible to other’s perspectives, and how it could impact the business and his personal relationships. One of his stretch goals is to learn American Sign Language (ASL) and break down a physical barrier of diversity.

“Whether it be a different food during lunch, a ‘thank you’ in a different language at the end of a meeting, or a handshake between two ethnic backgrounds, D&I is a primary source of how we are going to Grow for Good at Beam Suntory,” Johnson said.

Johnson joined Beam Suntory in 2015 as a Key Account Manager focusing on nightlife, with a goal of aligning Beam Suntory’s sales team and brands within niche audiences at bars and restaurants.

In this role, he was out and about analyzing the market to understand the different niches: general market, hotel, nightclub, restaurant, racially diverse, LGTBQ+ — to get the right brands in the right locations, and the right talent in the right territories.

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You can learn more about how Beam Suntory employees are “unleashing their spirit” around the world in our people profile series.


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