My Club: the man behind your in-flight beer

Martin Dickie
Martin Dickie


Gold Member and beer pioneer, BrewDog’s co-founder Martin Dickie distils his business lessons and travel insights. Plus, Speedbird returns…

The number one thing you need to succeed in business is to have an undying passion for what you are doing. Our mission was to make other people as passionate about great beer as we are. That love of great beer (and spirits) gets you through the low and hard times – of which, after more than 16 years, there are inevitably a few.

I couldn’t do my job without apps like WhatsApp and WeChat to make work and projects so much easier. For me, it’s about instant and focused communication channels, rather than having to trawl through emails or set up calls. We recently rebranded our whole spirits portfolio in six months on a WhatsApp thread. It’s so much better working in small agile groups in real time.   

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BrewDog created 'Speedbird 100' as part of our 100th birthday celebrations in 2019

Morning exercise sets me up for success. Get up early and get the workout done. Whether it’s a run outside, cycle session, weights or swim, starting the day with an early win puts you in a great and positive mindset. Also, a midday 30-60-minute run outdoors is 100 times better than a sandwich at your desk. 

The best investment I made in the office was a Single Group Slayer coffee machine. Productivity went up 230 per cent. When working remotely, you need a set of decent noise-cancelling headphones. I use Jaybird Vista for some great in-ear ones and Bose 700 for the old-school headphone type.

Be where the action is. Get involved in your company culture, learn new things, ask questions. Meet people eye to eye, understand what’s going well and, equally importantly, what the challenges are, and work them through together. Sometimes coming in with a fresh perspective can trigger a challenge that gets people thinking in a slightly different way. 

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Martin’s favourite airport and home city: Aberdeen

I owe a lot to Steve Carpenter, ex-CEO of Yakima Chief Hops. He taught me the importance of supporting the underdogs, taking risks and the importance of friendships and family. He also taught me the importance of fair contracts, allowing all parties opportunity for growth and prosperity, in turn leading to the capacity for reinvestment and improvement of process and product quantity. It’s better than the traditional race to the bottom. A very humble and smart man.

The best piece of advice I can give is to surround yourself with positive people. You get one shot in life, so having a group of people who look for solutions rather than problems makes life so much easier and fun. Look after your friends and family and make plenty of time for them. Challenge yourself and your colleagues to do hard things. Work with passion and enjoy the ride. 

I’m currently most excited about bringing back our original, brewed at 36,000ft, Speedbird OG beer to flights – although this time we have opened the design of the can to the general public and received more than 250 entries from all over the UK. We were blown away by the response. It is due to be launched on board next month.

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A desert escape at Martin’s favourite hotel

Quick fire questions

Aisle or window? Window, love to look out when flying. Whether it’s snow capped mountains or lightning storms in the distance. I always find being 35,000ft in the air an amazing feat.

Favourite hotel around the world? Amangiri, in Utah (pictured above). It’s a beautiful, minimalist modern hotel in the desert. I spent a few days there on my honeymoon and would love to go back.

Favourite BrewDog beer? Jack Hammer – incredible West Coast style IPA, the type of beer that showcases the pure beauty and flavours of hops.

Favourite holiday destination? Anywhere with snow and a hill.

Favourite baggage brand? I really like the Patagonia, especially the Black Hole Mini MLC, which is great for travelling light on a two-day trip.

Morning person or night owl? Morning. The peacefulness at 5am on a sunny summer morning is one of life’s great pleasures that most people sleep through.

Preferred in-flight activity? Having a beer or a gin and tonic. 

Bucket list destination? Thailand and Vietnam. Both look like beautiful countries with exciting adventures to go on and wonderful cuisine. One day for sure.

Favourite airport? ABZ. Aberdeen is such an easy experience – arrival to lounge in about four minutes.

This article has been tagged Food + Drink, BA