ATLANTA -- Upon the recommendation of Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, The Coca-Cola Company’s Board of Directors today announced it has approved unanimously an evolution of the company’s senior leadership structure, appointing Coke veteran James Quincey as the company’s next chief executive officer, effective May 1, 2017. Kent will continue as chairman of the Board of Directors.
We spoke to Kent and Quincey about this announcement and the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
First off, congratulations to you both. How do you feel?
Kent: This is one of the proudest days of my 38-year career in the Coca-Cola system. I feel good, primarily because I know there is no one more capable of leading our company into the future as CEO than my close business partner, James Quincey. I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with James for about half of his 20-year career with Coke, and I know his vast industry knowledge, expertise with our brands, values and global bottling system, coupled with an acute understanding of how consumer tastes are changing, make him the ideal candidate to lead us forward.
If you look back at James’ career, he has shown a great understanding of where consumers are going and has led key efforts in our system to expand our portfolio, introduce smaller packages and, most recently, to drive beverage reformulation to reduce added sugars in our drinks. I think anyone you talk to within our system will tell you that James is a proven, inspirational leader, and I feel really good about the partnership we have formed and what we can continue to achieve together.
Quincey: Well, Muhtar, thanks for that. I appreciate your support and hope to advance the great work you have done over the last eight years as our chairman and CEO. In terms of how I feel, it’s maybe a pair of overused words, but I really am honored and humbled. We have a strong leadership tradition within the Coca-Cola system, and it’s a humbling experience to be selected for a role that has been held by Muhtar and so many great role models throughout the company’s history. I am excited for the many opportunities that lie ahead for our business, and look forward to continuing to work with Muhtar to ensure a smooth transition.