After studying business administration at university in Bogotá, Camilo Gómez was unsure whether the corporate world was for him; “for fun”, he went to New York and took a course in mixology at a bartending school, which led to the creation of his first company, La Coctelería.
It specialised in mixology and mobile bars for corporate events; during the day, he was working in different marketing positions within the automotive industry, but nights were when he was able to do what he loved.
For Gómez, it was the starting point for a journey – from being a budding mixologist in the Americas to becoming an entrepreneur in Scotland, with plans to take his business, based on the little-known stories of whisky, to a global audience. It draws on his early experience travelling across North and South America, researching the art of whisky and other local drinks, such as whiskey in the US, Tequila in Mexico, Pisco in Perú and Chile, and Cachaça in Brazil.
“For me, one of the most interesting ways to discover the culture and customs of different countries is by understanding what they drink, how they drink it and where they drink it,” he said.
Gómez is the founder of Once Upon A Whisky, a whisky tour with a difference; it eschews the staple knowledge of production processes in favour of fascinating insights into the spirit’s history and modern-day incarnation.
Instrumental in him establishing a thriving company was achieving an MBA from the University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Business School. “It helped me develop a strategic way of thinking, leadership and entrepreneurial skills,” said Gómez. “It gives you the big picture of how businesses work and provides you with a spectrum of possibilities. It is a life changing experience.”
Gaining a Glasgow MBA is definitely the right way to become a leader in the future, whether it’s through setting up your own business or progressing your career.Camilo Gómez
After several years working in marketing during the day and as a mixologist at night, he was hired as brand ambassador in Colombia for Glenfiddich. After a couple of years with William Grant & Sons, and several trips to Scotland, Gómez knew he wanted to have a go at creating a new venture. “The MBA gave me managerial skills to develop a successful business,” he added.
As part of his time studying at the Adam Smith Business School, Gómez visited whisky distilleries and developed a strong relationship with his mentor Gerry O’Donnell, a former director at Edrington, producers of The Macallan and The Famous Grouse, among others. Gómez saw that the industry was transforming the way it presented its product to the world, and that this gave an opportunity to engage with new audiences in a different way.
Beginning with just a mobile phone and laptop, he launched Once Upon A Whisky; chosen because on each tour he tells a compelling story. “We don’t focus on the production process or how whisky is made,” he said. “We show you how to enjoy whisky while learning curious facts and quirky stories about the Scottish national drink. From cocktails and food to music and films, whisky connects people through a variety of passions and cultures.”
From one tour in Glasgow he has grown to three in the city and a further two in Edinburgh. He also arranges bespoke tours and corporate events, tailored to the needs of the individual client and organises special events that pair whisky with food – with some unlikely combinations proving exceedingly popular; doughnuts and whisky served up at a film viewing was a particular hit.
Last year, Gómez was selected by Visit Scotland to be part of a European business development mission to Amsterdam and this year was a finalist in the AMBA Excellence Awards. Once Upon a Whisky is one of the small businesses selected by the Royal Bank of Scotland to be part of its accelerator programme, and Gómez has plans to expand into other cities in the UK with a different range of drinks tours such as beer, cocktails and gin.
“If it were not for the MBA I probably wouldn’t be where I am now,” said Gómez. “Gaining a Glasgow MBA is definitely the right way to become a leader in the future, whether it’s through setting up your own business or progressing your career and achieving a good position in any company.”
Why study for a Glasgow MBA
The Glasgow MBA transforms futures and prepares professionals to take the next step in their career. It is an intensive yet rewarding one- year programme which empowers students to emerge as leaders with the essential practical skills to unlock opportunities, tackle leadership challenges and make a positive impact.
The Adam Smith Business School is triple accredited and internationally recognised to the highest standards. It has a small but diverse cohort of students each year at Glasgow. As a result, students receive dedicated one-to-one support while also being able to learn from their classmates’ experiences and skillsets. This year there are students from 15 countries, from many sectors and backgrounds.
Interactive classes balance tuition and discussion. In addition to acquiring the academic knowledge required by business leaders and entrepreneurs, Glasgow MBA graduates acquire the skills to think critically and learn how to ask the right questions. A particular strength of the course is its focus on coping with and managing uncertainty; a key strength in today’s world.
Association of MBAs (AMBA) accreditation is the global standard for all MBA degrees. The University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School holds the crown of triple accreditation, being accredited by AMBA, AACSB and EQUIS. This external recognition of quality is an important consideration for anyone considering where to undertake an MBA. Last year, it was ranked in the top five one-year MBAs in the UK and in the top 20 worldwide in the Times Higher Education global rankings.