From a slightly shaky QE start to forging a successful path in international business

From a slightly shaky QE start to forging a successful path in international business

Sam Colman (OE 1998-2005) is today a Global Key Account Manager for Boortmalt – the world’s second-largest malting business, supplying brewers and distillers of all sizes.

He combines globe-trotting on business with time spent with his young family in beautiful rural Suffolk. Yet, he says, without QE, “I would not have the skills or education to have the life I currently live. I received the invitation for the 450 Club and wanted to give something back.”

In fact, his early years at the School – from the age of 12 to 15 – were not altogether plain-sailing. “I famously did not attend a single RS class for GCSE (something that slipped through the disciplinary net) and never completed any History homework during Year 9. This meant that I was well versed in the School’s detention policy: however, I was never suspended. When I was 15, I had a conversation with Nick (‘The Sheriff’) Oulton and Tim Bennett who imparted some great advice, advising me that if I concentrated my efforts in actually doing the work rather than finding ways of not getting caught for not doing it, I would have an easier life.”

Current Headmaster Neil Enright joined the School when he was past this difficult time. “He is where I learnt the art of negotiation, convincing him to predict me an A in geography rather than the B he initially suggested – to this day one of my proudest achievements.” Sam went on to read Geography at Manchester.

After taking a year out to teach quad-biking and climbing at PGL, he took up a position with British Sugar in 2012, before joining Boortmalt as Commercial Manager UK (Brewing) in 2017 and rising through the ranks.

He has long been a keen supporter of the School. “I try to attend at least one event each year, ideally a careers event. I like to show the current pupils that there is more to life than corporate finance, medicine, law and engineering. I have a background in sales and now report directly to the board for a global company: it’s hard work and fun.”

Boortmalt has 27 malting locations worldwide, with a total production of 3 million tonnes of malt – a key ingredient in both beer and whisky. “We supply brewers and distillers from the big global [players] to local and craft scales. I am responsible for the global account management for several of the world’s largest brewers, in addition to local responsibility in the UK and North America. Roughly 50% of my time is spent travelling, either meeting with customers, or visiting our production sites, or Antwerp HQ. In the past 18 months I have visited: Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, Vietnam, Canada, USA and Australia for work.

“I really like the variety within my job: I can be negotiating contracts, working on projects (sustainable barley etc.), or working with internal teams on new customer solutions, for example. I was part of a team that completed one of the first bulk shipments of malt from Australia to the Americas during COVID.

“I fit all my work travel around family commitments. My wife and I have two young children, aged 2 and 4.”

Sam lives near Bury St Edmunds (“not far from Eric Houston’s holiday destination”). He still plays football regularly and he is on the community council as a trustee for a centre shared by four villages.