Wed | Dec 12, 2018

Tameika Grant and the ‘INJIN’ that could

Published:Monday | January 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Tameika Grant (centre) makes a point to her colleagues who were a part of the Injin development team - Jaeanne Bailey (left) Quality Manager, Red Stripe; and Tanique Bell, Liquid Innovation and Sensory Office, Red Stripe. (I'm double-checking to make sure everything here is fine, will get back to you on Monday).

"She thought she could, and so she did", a famous line from author R.S. Grey that could easily be the personal philosophy of the young and very talented Tameika Grant.

At only 33 years old, she is already making her mark as a big part of the machinery behind Red Stripe's newest innovation - Injin. Injin is a new herbal alcohol bitters being touted as the next big thing from the world's coolest beer company.

In her relatively new role as product innovations and compliance manager, Grant was given the mammoth task of perfecting the formula for Injin, a liquid that had been in the making for two years. "As with most innovations, we had challenges in the development stage, but as we worked to fine tune it, we got the mandate to get the product market-ready in a short time," Grant shared. But she was undaunted.

However, much to her surprise, her team encountered unforeseen challenges as they began to blend, producing a liquid that looked pink and nothing like the red concept that had been done on a smaller scale. After developing a work around, they faced other issues as they began processing the blend for packaging, as one of the parameters of the liquid made this seemingly impossible.

"Looking back, I can laugh now, but at the time, it was a very serious matter. A whole lot of investment was at risk. But with the expert support of Tyrone Laing and Tanique Bell, two of my team members, we were able to correct the blend," she explained. At the end of a process that presented additional bumps along the way, Injin was successfully launched and, if consumer feedback is anything to go by, the product has been doing well on the market.

"I am pleased with the delivery and happy to see that Jamaicans love and embrace Injin. On a professional level, I learnt more from that one experience with failure than I would have learnt from several years of being in the role," Grant shared.


Driven to succeed


Grant's acceptance of trials and her refusal to accept defeat, come from a family tradition that she traces to her mother's roots in Westmoreland and her father's Clarendon upbringing. Though she was born and raised in Kingston, the St Andrew High School alumnus asserts that her rural heritage has everything to do with her outlook on life. "Growing up, my parents were the typical Christian couple, who were strict with us children and insisted on excellence," she shared.

Her upbringing undoubtedly played a role in her growth and transition from a summer intern at Red Stripe - a role she took on while reading for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Chemistry - to her completion of the degree and subsequently, a certificate in brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. But Grant isn't done yet. Describing success as knowing what you want and steadily working towards accomplishing that goal, she is working on her newest target - an MBA, specialising in strategic planning.

"I don't have a typical story of struggle and overcoming odds. My life has not been that interesting," Grant quips. She argues that though her story may not be inspirational by some estimation, she stands on the shoulders of people like her grandfather who inherited one machete and a dream to achieve his goals. "He was able to send all his seven children to school, building a life from scratch. So I don't take anything for granted."

The young professional has built a reputation for delivering under pressure, a skill that has proven particularly useful in her 11 years at the beer company. Having held a range of positions before settling into her current role, Grant says that she sees this recent achievement as among the most fulfilling.

"The development of Injin strengthened my technical, leadership and professional capabilities. Experience is truly the greatest of teachers. You can either become bitter or better and I always choose to become better."