Leadership Style at Coca-Cola Company

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  • Topic: Coca-Cola, The Coca-Cola Company, Muhtar Kent
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Leadership Style at Coca-Cola Company - May 4th, 2011
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The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is a beverage retailer, manufacturer and marketer of non-alcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups. The company is best known for its flagship product Coca-Cola, invented by pharmacist John Stith Pemberton in 1886. The Coca-Cola formula and brand was bought in 1889 by Asa Candler who incorporated The Coca-Cola Company in 1892. Besides its namesake Coca-Cola beverage, Coca-Cola currently offers more than 500 brands in over 200 countries or territories and serves 1.6 billion servings each day.[3] The company operates a franchised distribution system dating from 1889 where The Coca-Cola Company only produces syrup concentrate which is then sold to various bottlers throughout the world who hold an exclusive territory. The Coca-Cola Company owns its anchor bottler in North America, Coca-Cola Refreshments. The Coca-Cola Company is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Its stock is listed on the NYSE and is part of DJIA, S&P 500 Index, the Russell 1000 Index and the Russell 1000 Growth Stock Index. Its current chairman and CEO is Muhtar Kent.

In the past year, I've had the honor of speaking on a number of university campuses around the world -- from the London Business School to IMD to MIT. I always walk away from these experiences energized and inspired by the fresh thinking... the rigorous debate... and the entrepreneurial spirit I find at our world's leading business schools.

Coming to Wharton, however, is truly special. This, of course, is where collegiate business education began. More importantly, this is where many of the leading ideas are coming from that will shape business leadership and business development in the years ahead.

Believe me... new ideas and new thinking have never been in more demand in the business world. It's tough out there at the moment -- very tough. The global financial crisis has touched everyone in the world, and it will probably get tougher before it gets better.

Last week, I met with Chairman Bernanke in Washington and we talked about the need to keep the faith in our global markets. I acknowledged the issues were difficult but I also expressed my optimism about the future and our belief that this was exactly the right time to invest in our future. We both agreed that the American economy and the world economy could come out of this crisis stronger and better prepared for the future than when we entered into it.

I am a firm believer that times like these are not an excuse to sit back and ride out the storm. Rather, this is the time to focus on what matters most to our business, shed what is wasteful and unproductive, and invest in our brands, customer-facing communications and execution.

History has shown us, time and again, that world-class organizations and leaders proactively manage turbulence to sow the seeds for future growth and prosperity. With that said, I'd like to spend some time this afternoon talking about leading in challenging times.

My hope is that the world you will inherit upon completion of your MBA will have calmed down quite a bit.

Rest assured, though, that whether it's a financial crisis, or a geopolitical crisis, or an energy crisis, or an environmental crisis -- turbulence will be the new norm in the years ahead. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, either.

I believe that for every headwind we confront there's an equally powerful tailwind to be ridden. The trick is finding it.

We are living in a world of great paradox. A world of seemingly insurmountable challenges... but also one of breathtaking opportunities. Your leadership will help shape and define that world.

I want to get this leadership discussion started by sharing with you some defining moments in my career and how they shaped my own personal leadership style. Then I'd like to share a few thoughts on how I am putting those principles into practice as...
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