If you spoke to Joe Belliotti a decade ago, chances are that working within a major corporation like Coca-Cola wouldn’t have been on his list of hypothetical jobs. With his background in the music industry, a gig as a beverage company executive just isn’t what many would consider a natural path. But all it takes is several minutes speaking with Joe to know that he’s in the right spot with his job as Director of Global Entertainment Marketing.

Previous Agency Experience With Coca-Cola

Joe joined the company in 2010, but previously he’d worked with Coca-Cola at a music marketing agency, so he had already spent a lot of time thinking about the brands. Joe had helped produce the music anthem for the Open Happiness campaign and the Wavin’ Flag single with Somali-Canadian rapper K’naan, which was Coca-Cola’s theme song for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He was also involved in Coca-Cola’s collaboration with the rapper Drake on Sprite’s “Spark” campaign.

“This was the first time in a long time Coca-Cola was thinking about global music,” Joe says about his experience with Coke at the marketing agency. “They were doing a ton of things on the local level, but Open Happiness was the first time it was global and it went great, which gave us a seat at the table for Wavin’ Flag and then it just snowballed.”

Joe’s career trajectory is in line with a trend in the corporate world of companies going straight to the source when it comes to hiring creatives or other people whose expertise in a different world can help boost the business.

“The fact that Coke brought me in was a bit of a risk on their part. I didn’t have a corporate background, never had a corporate job in the beverage industry. But they knew I was committed to making sure they were working with music in an authentic way,” Joe says.

Making the Transition to Coca-Cola

For anyone debating a similar leap of faith, it’s important to recognize that there is a learning curve. Joe says the best piece of advice he got when making the switch was to find out how the company makes money. “‘Learn the business,’ I was told. If you’re coming from the outside world, you’re coming in because there’s so much value that the brands and agencies can bring as far as artists or producers or filmmakers" he explains, but you also need to understand the business you are joining and your place in it.

How He Spends His Days

Joe’s daily responsibilities are both micro and macro. He works on the details of specific campaigns while also figuring out strategy with his team for massive initiatives like the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the company’s relationship with the digital music service Spotify. The latter is something he’s acutely interested in, given the time he spent in the music industry. He’s also keenly aware of how quickly the business — and music fans’ preferences and consumption — is changing in the digital space.

“Music is constantly evolving through technology, and the biggest example of that is Spotify. A few years ago, before Spotify, you didn’t have access to 22 million songs at your fingertips for free. The idea you could share it with the click of a button or create a huge playlist for everyone to hear was unheard of. The shift in the way people are consuming music and sharing it, you have to become more nimble to stay a relevant part of that conversation.”

And the best part is that he still gets to work with music. “Musicians genuinely love the brand and project they’re working on.” And that makes his job easier. “I don’t have any of those nightmare stories that you hear about,” when it comes to working with talent, he says.

If you catch Joe outside of the office, there’s a good chance he’ll be sporting earbuds listening to music. Oh, and he’s got an insatiable craving for pop culture and gossip sites  — all the better for tracking trends and fueling creative ideas that may one day become part of a Coca-Cola campaign.