Justine Fletcher was finishing her master’s degree in 2010 when she landed a two-days-a-week internship with the Coca-Cola Archives. A few months later, Phil Mooney, the company’s archivist at the time, offered her a contract position to support Coke’s 125th anniversary.

“I was like gum on Phil’s shoe,” Fletcher says with a laugh. “I wouldn’t leave.”

Fletcher was hired on full time in 2013 and, a few weeks ago, was named the company’s chief archivist. In this role, she’s responsible for documenting and preserving Coke’s more than 132-year history, and leveraging this storied heritage as a strategic marketing and communications asset.

She curates the company’s in-house collection of more than 190,000 catalogued items – everything from print ads and artwork, to paperwork and photos, to bottles and cans – valued at more than $80 million. The shelves inside the Coca-Cola Archives, if laid out end to end, would stretch nearly two-and-a-half miles.

We caught up with Fletcher a few days into the job:

Tell us about your background and path to Coca-Cola.

I have an undergraduate degree in communications and thought I’d go to work at a TV station. But I’ve always loved history. My husband and I were living in Northern Virginia when he worked in CNN’s Washington, D.C. bureau. I got a part-time job at George Mason University, while also working on a master’s in history. I thought I’d go on and get my Ph.D. in Southern Antebellum history. But halfway through the program, my husband’s job brought us to Atlanta, so I essentially had to start over. I ended up earning a master’s degree in heritage preservation from Georgia State University, which was a great fit and ended up serving me better professionally because I never wanted to just talk about history… I wanted to have contact with it. And my experience here at Coke has given me just that. I have the best of all the worlds. The history of Coca-Cola is intertwined with the history of the United States and the world, and we have these wonderful artifacts to help us tell that story.

How would you describe your role?

I often hear “Oh, you must be up to your ears in history!” I love documenting and sharing the history of this iconic company, yes, but I’m also protecting and preserving these assets for future use. I’m not just looking back... I’m looking ahead. I straddle both worlds. As a historian, my goal is to be well versed in our heritage but also to continue to search for items that will help tell untold pieces of the Coca-Cola story. I’m collecting, appraising and bringing in items that will help whoever is in this job 25 or 30 years from now.

I have to think like a marketer, too. I collaborate closely with our marketing and licensing teams to help tell the stories they’re looking to tell – either through advertising, packaging or licensed apparel or merchandise. And since this is the only archives for the entire company, I do quite a bit of research and presentations for employees around the world, as well.

Finally, I’m making conscious decisions about what items we should purchase to help fill gaps in the Coca-Cola story. And at times it can be a crowdsourcing effort; we can’t do it all on our own. Auction houses are often trying to sell us things. The Coca-Cola collector community also contacts us if they see something. We’re so lucky to have such a passionate and knowledgeable group of people to partner with.

What were some of the projects you worked on at Coke before taking this role?

I’ve been lucky to get to work on a lot of exciting projects, starting with the 125th anniversary of the company in 2011. My claim to fame is I got a scrim made of Jacob’s Pharmacy that covered a Georgia State University building for the historical marker dedication in 2016. In 2015, I traveled around the world for an exhibit we created marking the 100th anniversary of the Coca-Cola contour bottle. And I got to spend a few weeks in London in 2016 managing a collectors’ fair and writing stories for Coca-Cola Journey Great Britain.

Coca-Cola is in the midst of a major transition to a total beverage company. How does that impact your work?

It makes collecting information even more important as our beverage portfolio and business expands. We’re Coca-Cola and so much more. So we have to ensure all of these new brands are represented in our archives. In 20 years, for example, someone will be looking for information on Costa coffee. So a big part of my job is to help promote the breadth of our portfolio. This is an exciting time that’s keeping me on my toes!

What are some of your initial priorities?

We’re in the process of migrating to a new digital asset management system. We’re also moving Robert Woodruff’s office to the main lobby areas of our headquarters so more people – employees and visitors – can learn about his leadership and his legacy. I also feel strongly about finding and presenting previously untold stories about women from our archives. Finally, a big part of what we do is celebrate milestones and anniversaries, and next year marks the 50th anniversary of the “It’s the Real Thing” campaign.

I am humbled to be in this role. The Coca-Cola Archives is much bigger than the person leading the department. People are thirsty for the history of this great company and brand. They want to understand it, so I’m privileged to be a part of it. We have stories of success and failures in the Archives, but collectively we learn from both. The Archives holds those stories so all associates can continue to learn. That’s why we’re here: to help our people see and be inspired by what we’ve done in the past and then go out and do something even better.