The six-week program carries the namesake of Donald R.
Keough, who served as president and chief operating officer of The
Keough also is revered for his ability to connect and
cultivate relationships with everyone who came in contact with
“Don knows our business like few have ever dreamed of
knowing it, and he has a passion for the specialness of
Developed in partnership with Duke University’s Corporate
Education program, the Donald R. Keough System Leadership Academy aims to
strike this same balance. Participants will visit a diverse set of markets to
develop an end-to-end understanding of the
The curriculum will challenge the leaders – who represent all corners of the system, from manufacturing and finance to advertising and sales – with complex business cases designed to inspire critical thinking and unconventional approaches to solving problems and seizing opportunities. They will interact with senior executives at both the global and local level to learn about leadership, legacy and the importance of collaboration – while embracing Keough’s inclusive management style and insatiable thirst for knowledge.
‘Constant Stimulus and Constant Input’
Keough expected candor from his team, surrounding himself with people who were not afraid to challenge him. In fact, he was known to routinely share lunch or a Coke with employees he didn’t know just to hear directly from them about their work and their perspectives. He traveled to more than 140 countries during his years at the helm to keep his finger on the pulse of the business.
“Every time I went anywhere, I came back to Atlanta knowing more than I knew when I left,” Keough told the class last week during a special kickoff event at Coke's global headquarters.
Keough, 86, used a vivid analogy to encourage the inaugural class to remain curious and to “learn more every day” during their six-week journey.
“The brain is like a sponge,” he said. “When you have a sponge in your hand, if you let it get dry, you can peel it off, bit by bit, into millions of little pieces. And that's the way the brain is, too… in order for you to be able to have output, you have to have constant stimulus and constant input.”
After spending a few days in Atlanta, the team traveled to Chicago to learn about bottler and customer partnerships. From there, it’s on to Mexico City for a crash course on brand love and shopper marketing. The program concludes with stops in Ahmedabad and Hyderabad, India, where participants will be immersed in the culture of a developing market and study systems integration.
you are immersed in a program like this can you fully understand and begin to
absorb the heritage, responsibility and opportunity within our system," Jason Marshall, vice president of finance for
Samia Bouchareb, general manager, Morocco, added, "This experience is creating a unique link between our past and our future. Over the last 127 years, generations have built our company around the values of love for the brand, relationships, passion and excellence in execution. We are now responsible with creating the business foundation for the next 127 years."