Muhtar Kent, The Coca-Cola Company

Muhtar Kent

An Enduring Partnership

Editors’ Note

Muhtar Kent joined The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta in 1978, and in 1985, he was appointed General Manager of Coca-Cola Turkey and Central Asia. From 1989 to 1995, he served as President of the company’s East Central Europe Division and Senior Vice President of Coca-Cola International. Between 1995 and 1998, he served as Managing Director of Coca-Cola Amatil-Europe. From 1999 until his return to The Coca-Cola Company in May 2005, Kent served as President and CEO of the Efes Beverage Group, the majority shareholder of Turkish bottler Coca-Cola Icecek. Kent also served as a board member of Coca-Cola Icecek. He was named President and Chief Operating Officer of The Coca-Cola Company’s North Asia, Eurasia and Middle East Group from 2005 until early 2006, and served as President of Coca-Cola International through most of 2006 until his appointment as President and Chief Operating Officer of The Coca-Cola Company. He became Chief Executive Officer in July of 2008 and Chairman of the Board of Directors in April 2009. Kent holds a bachelor of science degree in economics from Hull University, England, and a master of science degree in administrative sciences from London City University.

Company Brief

Consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy The Coca-Cola Company’s (www.thecoca-colacompany.com) beverages at a rate of 1.7 billion servings a day. Led by Coca-Cola®, it is the world’s largest beverage company with more than 500 sparkling and still brands including Diet Coke®, Fanta®, Sprite®, Coca-Cola Zero®, vitaminwater®, Powerade®, Minute Maid®, Simply®, and Georgia®.

As one of the world’s leading brands, Coca-Cola is headquartered in Atlanta and very involved in the Atlanta community. What is the key attribute Atlanta provides as a leading destination for business?

Atlanta is known for its spirit of public/private partnership – a spirit that has been carried down through generations of Atlanta leaders. From the earliest years, when one of Coca-Cola’s own, Asa Candler, served as Atlanta mayor, to Mayor Kasim Reed today, this city understands that its success is inexorably linked to healthy, growing businesses. This progressive spirit is what made Atlanta home to 12 Fortune 500 companies, the world’s largest airport, a vibrant arts community, a large and growing population of young professionals, and a world-class network of colleges and universities to provide bright, young talent to local business.

Our past and future successes are defined by business/civic partnerships. Coca-Cola needs the intellectual capital, the creative capital, and the innovative spirit and support of our great hometown now more than ever. And it’s why we will continue to be engaged enthusiastically in every aspect of public life in this city.

Atlanta’s Mayor, Kasim Reed, has been very direct in addressing Atlanta’s challenges and positioning the city for future growth. Are you happy with the progress his Administration is making?

Mayor Reed has an aggressive, forward-thinking agenda that represents a new generation of leadership. He was raised in Atlanta, and has always had a great talent and ambition to shape the future. When he was in college, he had the idea that every student should help build the Howard University scholarship endowment for the future. Years later, his idea of having a small student fee for the endowment has paved the way for many students who followed him to afford a college education.

In Atlanta, he tackled the tough issues early on. Just over a year ago, Atlanta was struggling – its reserves were dwindling and firefighters were being laid off. In just one year, Mayor Reed has balanced the city budget, increased reserves, and freed up money to hire back firefighters.

His efforts to date have won him the gratitude of the city and admirers in high places.

Coca-Cola is known for its great work in supporting the communities where it operates around the world and in being a leading corporate citizen. Would you highlight some of your recent work in Atlanta in this regard?

Coca-Cola volunteers supporting the American Red Cross

Coca-Cola volunteers supporting the American Red Cross

For 125 years, Coca-Cola has proudly grown up alongside Atlanta. We’ve shared the triumphs, faced the challenges, and worked together to create a better future as only best friends can. There’s no question we are a better company today because of our enduring partnership.

Our community work in Atlanta continues to focus on the areas that make the biggest impact on quality of life in our hometown, primarily environment, education, and active, healthy living. Most recently, as part of our 125th anniversary celebration, we made a $1-million grant to Mayor Reed’s Centers of Hope initiative. When Mayor Reed ran for office, he made a strong commitment to our young people through a commitment to reopen physical activity centers around the city. These “Centers of Hope” are providing education, training, character development, fitness, and other positive programs for our city’s youth. They will be a great legacy for a great leader.

This complements many other initiatives we have under way in our hometown. From supporting the development of the new National Center for Civil and Human Rights next door to our World of Coca-Cola; to investing more than $7 million to ensure Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s papers are available to display for future generations in Atlanta; to providing grants to local education, arts, and transportation initiatives like the innovative Atlanta Beltline; we are focused on giving back to the community that has made us successful since the first Coca-Cola was served here 125 years ago.•