Working on mainframes at IBM to Metalman Brewing Ltd! An unlikely combination?
Often when we hear of a new Start up, we focus on the how’s and what nots of materializing an idea. However more often than not, it is the events over time that lead to an idea. Or in the words of Steve Jobs ‘you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards’.
Metalman Brewing Ltd.
The story of Metalman Brewing Ltd. is entangled in Grainne Walsh’s own life experiences, personal growth and self-awareness. There is a lot to be gained from the insightful understanding of how Metal Man is with us today. Narrated by Grainne herself, the journey is as flavoursome and refreshing as one of her ice cold pale ale beers.
Start of a passion:
As per the stereotype of those in the technology industry, Grainne Walsh learned early on the difference between a good and a bad beer.
‘A Sierra Nevada pale ale at Porterhouse, Temple Bar.’
Consumed at Porterhouse Temple, Sierra Nevada was a ‘Fresh … sparkling and .. twinkling.. and.. so full of so many flavors’ like no other beer tasted before by Grainne this beer ‘just seemed to have a bit of everything’ and left her ‘blown away’.
The after taste planting a seed that not even she could of predicted. As the story quickly fast forwards this was the beer that came to the for front of her mind when deciding to create Metalman Brewing Ltd.
Here was a beer that was deemed to be a perfect flagship product. It was then that she began to notice that in Ireland all of the ‘amazing’ beers she had found, were imported from California. The interest had begun. She wanted to taste and experience many of the wonderful different beers.
A career in technology:
Like many who grow up in Ireland, Grainne completed her Leaving Certificate and set off to college. When the time arose, having completing a degree in Mathematics, Grainne found herself entering the technology industry.
Specifically starting out at IBM. Although Grainne stuck at many of the projects on the horizon, the passion her colleagues felt about the work being complete intrigued her.
It was a quality of their working lives that she found difficult to relate to. This resulted in her pivoting within the technology sector, constantly chasing new exciting experiences in seek of the area she was passionate about.
A total change:
On September 10th 2011 Grainne and her boyfriend having quit their jobs, departed for ‘Oktoberfest.’
‘We bought a camper van and moved to follow Oktoberfest’
Grainne having witnessed the boom crash from a far, in Ireland, took on a new perspective. In comparison to cultures that had crept into Irish society during the Celtic Tiger times, Grainne was witnessing a new approach to consummation.
On her travels the sense of community loyalty and support for local produce seemed far removed from Celtic Tiger! This was described as a ‘reality check’ but it was not deemed as it personal.
Perspective on the Locals
Grainne enjoyed socializing in the communities which were described as being like nowhere else in the world. Locals only drank beer that was brewed in the village which was an alienating approach in comparison to ‘back home.’
While this sense of belonging was great, Grainne had not yet associated brewing beer as a potential career.
Back to work:
After 18months of an unforgettable experience, Grainne moved to the UK to begin working in the technology sector again.
The sheer density of the population, encouraging commercial chains to cover high streets gave her feelings of claustrophobia.
There was no sense of unique authentic atmosphere and she could not wait to go on the move again leading to at least another three adventures in the camper van.
Amazon – where paths started to diverge:
Amazon Web Services was just taking off, all of a sudden there was a buzz and it was an amazing place with such excitement.
However she still was a little deflated and discouraged by it all. [All of the looking, trying and deep dive searching]. It was at this point she started to realize that perhaps it was time to start looking outside of the technology industry.
Realizing how much thirst she had to learn, Grainne decided academia could be the route to her passion. After convincing herself and her previous lectures, she began her Masters in Theoretical Physics.
This unfortunately was not as it seemed. As she joked:
‘all that concentrating, I loved it but it was not the solution.’
The academic experience lead her back to her previous working career. All the past indicating that she knew exactly what she did not want to do, but knew no more about what she wanted to do.
Patience was running dry.
‘Can I fake it or do I find the thing I want to sit and talk about all the time?’
Hope on the Horizon:
Undoubtedly, Grainne had learned a lot about herself. She understood how quickly she could learn something new. However trying to keep up with ‘super smart people’ when it was not her passion was draining.
This resulted in her taking a step back, concluding that she could not keep up faking it.
What are the alternatives?
‘Could I not work in tech?’ Amazon had provided opportunity for Grainne to explore Seattle, which is home to ‘really awesome beer.’ Pathways started to diverged away from technology as she realized what her ‘geekiness’ was about.
The thought came to her, 'What beers are in what place?" This was in comparison to her colleagues traveling alongside her, engrossed by the latest API and Scrum reports.
Upon returning to Ireland she began brewing her own beer. Little did she realize, at that time, her dedicated 6am Saturday's were the key to unlocking her drive.
Metalman Brewing Ltd
Meeting manufacturers encouraged Grainne to get better at brewing her own beer. White Gypsy were ‘brutal, clinical and brilliant’ at sharing advice.
They tested her -- making sure she was not ‘just a blow in.’ They were essentially ‘weeding her out.’ Combining those in the industry, understanding herself and tasting the Seattle beer, the perfect ingredients for Metalman Brewing Ltd were finally formulized.
For Metalman Brewing Ltd the transition to a commercial product from a Saturday morning production was approached in no other way but as ‘a mathematical problem’ - with the aid of spreadsheets!
The memories of Oktoberfest has encouraged Grainne to take part in helping others passionate about beer, to also cherish the markets authenticity.
The three top tips:
- Talk to people and do your homework.
- Understand the trends in the industry.
- Prepare to listen to others in the industry, specifically about the intricacies. For beer, that would be how much is a beer mat? What kegs should be used? For other industries the specific intricacies will be something else. The point is, you have to find what those are.
‘Brewing the beer is the easy bit!’
Finally, the two pathways initially appearing to be running in parallel -- but they crossed. This action has generated a lasting impact.
With a sky rocket in job satisfaction, Grainne Walsh has switched gears and has alas gained the control of her career.