Beam Suntory, a world leader in premium spirits, announced that Sarah Langley has been appointed senior vice president, chief people, culture, and communications officer, succeeding Paula Erickson, who will retire on April 1 following a successful 15-year career with the company.
“On behalf of Suntory Holdings CEO Tak Niinami and the Beam Suntory Board of Directors, I want to extend my sincere thanks to Paula for her many contributions to our business as we’ve evolved and grown over the past 15 years,” says Greg Hughes, president and CEO at Beam Suntory. “Paula is a generous, passionate, and people-centric leader who has had a tremendous impact on this organization, especially as we’ve undergone significant transformation as a company. I’ve personally appreciated her partnership through the years and especially as I have stepped into the CEO role over the past several months.”
Erickson joined the company in 2008, leading corporate communications and public relations, and in 2014, following the acquisition by Suntory Holdings, she was tapped to join the executive team as chief human resources officer. During her tenure, the company experienced tremendous growth, with sales nearly tripled and the company’s talent pool growing from 2,400 to around 6,500 employees across 100 markets. Under Erickson’s leadership, the company has accelerated its diversity, equity, and inclusion ambitions, step changed its benefits offerings, achieved “Best Place to Work” rankings around the world, adeptly navigated the COVID pandemic, and built a best-in-class global human resources and communications team.
“I’m incredibly grateful for the career journey I’ve had at Beam Suntory and could not have imagined all the accomplishments we would achieve together to grow our business and advance our special culture,” says Erickson. “I’m very grateful to Greg for his leadership and friendship, and I have great confidence in Sarah’s leadership as she takes the reins to lead the people-side of our business well into the future.”
With a career spanning 20 years at Suntory, Langley started in 2004 at Frucor, the company’s beverage arm in Oceania, where she ultimately served as chief people and communications officer from 2008 to 2018. She was then promoted to Suntory Holdings’ deputy chief operating officer, global HR, based in Tokyo, where she spearheaded the global talent agenda across Suntory’s companies.
Since 2020, Langley has been serving in a hybrid Suntory and Beam Suntory role as chief operating officer, global people and culture, and as Beam Suntory’s vice president of HR in the Asia Pacific, where she has been instrumental in building the company’s talent, capability, and engagement in the region.
“Sarah is a strong and experienced leader who is well positioned to lead our people, culture, and communications function as we position our company for continued growth and further our ambition to be the world’s most admired premium spirits company,” Hughes says.
Langley will be responsible for the company’s global talent strategy, compensation and benefits, culture, learning capability, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, organizational development, and corporate communications. She will report directly to Hughes and serve on the company’s executive leadership team.
A native of New Zealand, Langley earned her bachelor’s degree in business psychology and master’s degree in industrial psychology from Massey University in Auckland. She started her career in consulting with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Sheffield Limited in Oceania before joining Frucor. Langley will be based at Beam Suntory’s global headquarters in New York City.