Jacqui Seargeant

Jacqui Seargeant

Last updated on 11 February 2019

Jacqui Seargeant is the Global Archive Manager for John Dewar & Sons Ltd (Part of the Bacardi Limited group of companies)

February the 4th is a special day within our company because it is our Founder’s Day – a time to remember this day in 1862 when Don Facundo Massó established a small distillery in Santiago de Cuba where he produced the world’s first light-bodied rum. The history of our past is well protected and appreciated on many occasions like this one, but the archive of our future (like that of many organisations) is extremely uncertain in the digital world. So, what are we doing about it?

We are starting out on our journey to establish a digital archive repository for the company and its many brands and assets. It is a large (and somewhat intimidating) project, in a company that employs approximately 7,000 people, across 200 brands and labels with more than 20 production facilities in 11 countries. We have recently recruited a Digital Archivist to help get this project off the ground, which means we now have 6 archivists who are located across four countries, all of whom will play a role in the establishment of our digital archive.

What I have found particularly interesting about this project is the obvious need for our organisation to fully understand who our archivists are, where our archives are and why we are archiving things. We do normally work closely with certain areas of the business (such as our Marketing Departments and Brand Ambassadors), share stories and images regularly within our company and provide tours of the archive so people know where we are and what the archive is, but there are still many corners of our business that we haven’t yet reached, and we are coming to see the digital archive project as a real opportunity to change this.

In the past year, as we have started digital archive investigations, we have been touching base with a lot of people within our business who already know we have archives, but don’t normally consult them and probably don’t consider their own work to ultimately have archival or historical merit. In conjunction with our nuts and bolts technical investigations for the digital archive, we are therefore currently developing a promotional campaign for our archives so that we can make more colleagues aware of the role they need to play in the archiving of our future history, which obviously includes making sure they know what we do!

Our department is part of Corporate Communications, so we are no strangers to promoting our activities and stories and we are very well placed to get the support we need to reach out to our colleagues through our established internal communication channels. The way forward will no doubt include tapping into avenues that we already use, such as our intranet, internal communications platforms, staff inductions and story sharing – to some extent we just need to adapt our stories to help people understand their role in protecting and preserving the modern history of the business.

I currently feel contradictory emotions about this entire project – the weight of the challenge versus the excitement of the opportunity. I hope to look back in one year’s time (maybe two!) and be in a totally different position, with the makings of a digital repository and colleagues across the business who interact with us regularly because they understand the importance of their work to our long-term history.

I would be very interested to hear the experience of others – what tools, stories and approaches have you used to promote your digital archiving project and archival function internally, and how effective were they?

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