Thank you for inviting me today. Your invitation has brought me to the town where I spent my initial years. This is a city that taught me how to learn, live and love. I owe everything to this city. A couple of months ago, and more specifically over the last fortnight, some office bearers and volunteers of AIESEC were interacting with the Coca-Cola team. They proposed that I talk about my experience of serving 10 years in Coca-Cola and if there are any learnings to share. Our team at Coca-Cola agreed. So in all earnestness, I am sharing the 10 things I learnt at Coca-Cola, which for me are life lessons.

1. Work hard and persevere

  • The foundation of building a successful product / company / organization lies in being able to persevere
  • Behind every successful enterprise is atleast 10 years of labour and many more years of sacrifice
  • The world’s most famous beverage – Coca-Cola - was served on May 8th in 1886 Jacobs’ Pharmacy. This happened after Dr. John Pemberton tried, failed, tried and dabbled in many businesses. It was initially consumed as a cure for headache

2. Spread joy and cheer

  • A brand / product / organization will not be successful and long lasting till it delivers on the most basic human emotions of - happiness and joy
  • Santa Claus epitomizes the values of brand Coca-Cola and delivers the human needs of joy and happiness

3. Dream Big

  • It is said that a goal is a dream with a deadline
  • Hence it is important to dream
  • Those that dream big, atleast reach half way through
  • It is important to have a good, big, hairy, audacious goal in life

4. Share the credit

  • Successful brands don’t belong to companies that created it. It belongs to the consumer
  • A successful brand or product cannot be the creation of one individual. It is often the handiwork of a complex ecosystem comprising atleast of - consumers, sellers, distributors, employees, researchers, regulators, partners etc
  • So give credit where it is due just like Robert Woodruff, the legendary Chairman of Coca-Cola decided to puruse TIME magazine to put the product on their cover page in 1950, instead of his own photograph

5. Have Courage

  • Bringing about a change or thinking differently on a subject, needs courage of conviction
  • But once you are convinced, stand up and be counted for the cause
  • Just like in 2013 when we released the Small World machinefilm on youtube under fairly complex external environment in the context of Indo – Pak relations. The success of that film demonstrated that reasons that unite us, are much more powerful than the reasons that divide us

6. Be Yourself

  • Nothing works better than being original. People recognize you for who you are and not for who you are trying to be!
  • In 1985 our experiment with New Coke – When we thought, we needed to change because we thought that the consumers’ taste profile were changing
  • Consumers told us that they drank Coca-Cola for what it was

7. Innovate

  • All of us must continuously evolve with changing times
  • But innovation, contrary to what most of us understand, is not an event, it is a process
  • In 1893 we were dispensing Coca-Cola with the simplest of fountain machines. In 2009 we were doing the same act through a state-of-the-art Coca-Cola Freestyle machine that allows 130 combinations of different Coca-Cola beverages possible. The same exercise of dispensing an ice cold Coca-Cola has evolved through all these years.

8. Give Back

  • Share success. Give back.To the society and environment
  • Coca-Cola India started Support My School Campaign which is committed to provide access to water, toilets and basic infrastructureto children in Government schools. It generates resources from common people, corporates and civil society organizations to create model schools – schools where children want to go, every single day

9. Go Global

  • The world is now a truly global village
  • Therefore all of us need to train ourselves, be aware of, and behave as global citizens
  • g. Coca-Cola, which is present in 207 countries and Coke, which is the 2nd most understood word in the world after ok

10. Get out and play

  • Work-life balance is utmost important to maintain good productivity
  • Coca-Cola started its association with FIFA in 1976, one which continues till date and that is because we believe in being the biggest “fan” of sports. We are partners with Olympics, Special Olympics, UEFA, Euro Cup, local football leagues and many other sporting properties

These are excerpts and transcript of the key Note Speech by Kamlesh Sharma, Director, Public Affairs & Communication Coca-Cola India and South West Asia at the Coca-Cola AIESEC Youth Speak forum in Ranchi. AIESEC is the world’s largest youth organization and Coca-Cola is the world’s leading beverage company present in 207 countries.