Friends, family and colleagues of Salvatore Gabola gathered in Paris yesterday, to launch a new commemorative internship in his memory.

Salvatore, who passed away a year ago, was a distinguished, 18-year Coca-Cola veteran who served most recently as strategy and campaign director for Western Europe. He suffered a fatal heart attack in his home city of Paris on Oct. 17, 2015.

During his long career at Coca-Cola, Gabola was a leading force in building the company's NGO partnerships, including with WWF, which is still making a massive impact for nature and wildlife worldwide. Gabola was an avid supporter of WWF and continued to spearhead new projects with the organization until the end of his life. He also had a passion for learning and thought deeply about Coca-Cola's role in society, and its ability to make a positive difference.

It is highly fitting that his legacy and values should now be remembered with a new internship, jointly set up by WWF and Coca-Cola, within WWF France.

The internship is designed to support a new generation of leaders who seize the opportunities of sustainability and pursue practical business strategies for conservation.

Gabola was always very close to France and lived in Paris for the last five years of his life. He was a great supporter of Coca-Cola's relationship with WWF in France and made a personal trip with his family to visit the WWF's Camargue water project. 

The internship, which will be based in WWF France, will be aimed at students of business and management or finance and consist of deep-level experience in the field, such as working on a conservation project, as well as gaining exposure to the science and policy of the organization, and supporting its partnership-building and collaboration with business.

The internship will last for three years, with a different student selected each year. The first student, Louison Christophe, began work with WWF France in October. Christophe was in Paris recently to meet colleagues and friends of Gabola.

Colleagues Pay Tribute

For the launch of the internship, Gabola's colleagues and friends gathered to remember him and pay tribute. Ulrike Sapiro, director of sustainability for Coca-Cola Western Europe, worked with Gabola for many years and delivered a heartfelt speech in his memory.

"Salvatore used his professional and personal brightness to advance things that really matter," Sapiro said. "He wanted to achieve a real impact and make a difference. He combined making a difference for the business with making a difference for people and society, and nowhere did he do this as passionately as in environmental protection and nature conservation, particularly with the WWF."

Coca-Cola France General Manager Imad Benmoussa added, "Salvatore was a leader of people and a man of action who is greatly missed. I am delighted that this internship can serve to keep his memory alive and honor his life by continuing the work that he and others started." 

WWF-Coca-Cola Internship Honors Salvatore Gabola

The first recipient of the Salvatore Gabola internship (left) with Salvatore's widow, Aude, (third from left); Imad Benmouusa; Ulrike Sapiro and Clarisse Fageolles (far right).

Tony Long, who heads the WWF European Policy Office in Brussels, added, "Salvatore's legacy will forever be celebrated in the living, vibrant, practical nature conservation success stories in quiet, often remote, corners all over Europe and beyond, not least in the natural rivers and floodplains and watery spaces that his actions and example have helped bequeath us."

Also present was Salvatore's widow, Aude, who expressed deep gratitude for The Coca-Cola Company's commitment to preserving her late husband's legacy and for the support she and their three daughters have received.