We recently met up with Coca-Cola Europe, Middle East & Africa President Brian Smith to discuss how taking risks, adopting an entrepreneurial mindset and, most of all, moving quickly will help the company accelerate growth in the strategically important region.

Why? Because, unlike in the past when Coca-Cola has built its beverage portfolio gradually, the company now “does not have the luxury of time.”

Read more about Smith’s action plan for growth:

What should the company be doing to truly change the business?

We need to bring products to market faster. If you look at what we did in other parts of the world, for instance in North America, Latin America or Japan, we built a whole stills portfolio that spans different categories, over 10, 15, 25 years. But now, we don’t have the luxury of time to be able to do that in the rest of the world, where we are more limited. So, we need to take what we’ve learned from other places and be able to implant those learnings in new territories.

How long do we have?

By 2020, I’d like to see us have critical mass across all categories. And not only that, but to have platforms in those spaces that we can grow, towards 2030. If we do this in EMEA, we can leapfrog the way we built our business in other parts of the world. There’s a great opportunity there for the taking and many of our business units are already capitalizing on this. We must continue to be bold and seize every opportunity.

What can we learn from other markets?

There is so much inspiration to draw on from our portfolio around the world. When we say “look external,” that doesn’t always have to mean outside our company. Be curious about what other regions are doing. We don’t always need to start from scratch; it’s likely we already have the expertise somewhere. A big key to success? Don’t reinvent the wheel. Begin by seeing what’s on the shelf, and adapt. You’d be amazed at the know-how, business models and learnings we have in our business.

What role does culture play in achieving this growth?

It’s essential that we evolve our culture so we can move faster. If we do things the way we did even a year ago, then we’re way too slow. We need to minimize the time it takes us to launch new platforms and, most importantly, we are empowered to take risks. We may not always be successful. We may have launches that don’t work. But we can learn from those failures, accommodate, change, modify and make things better. That’s the spirit of our 1.0, 2.0 approach. If we do that, we’ll be able to get to where we want to, in a shorter amount of time.