What qualities made Muhtar Kent what he is today?

The belief that relationships are key – whether it is personal or professional. I attribute my success to the fact that I never dine alone! Every moment of every day is an opportunity to start and cultivate a new or existing relationship. They are the single most important element for success.

Were you conditioned for success right from childhood?

I was a globe trotter by the age of 14 and had lived across three continents during this period. My parents shared a lot of advice and wisdom which holds me in good stead till this very day. They had a knack of communicating through their actions. I believe the values they imbibed in me are timeless and reflected the generosity, kindness and empathy they had for people of all kinds, from all walks of life, from all over the world. 

Despite being the leader of such a globally renowned organisation, why do you even today visit a store every week?

Being rooted to the ‘points of impact’ is essential and I make it a point to visit at least one store every week to ensure that I remain connected. Impromptu visits are my favourite and one never knows what kind of insights might be shared while meeting shoppers/store managers first hand. This is the best possible feedback mechanism and these insights go a long way in shaping strategy for the organisation.

In December 2015, Ebay held a bidding for ‘Share a Coke with the Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company’, your thoughts?

Anything for a good cause! This particular one was for RED and the proceeds went to fight AIDS. 

One thing you continue to believe in while your journey at Coca-Cola?

Paint a picture for your customers. Give them a reason to want to do business with your company. Inspire people - both inside and outside. This will help build the brand and create love for the brand amongst people, both within and outside the organisation.

What is your definition of leadership?

To me leadership is all about creating value in whatever you do, whatever role you are in, and leaving something better than you found it.

Does one ever stop on the learning curve

I believe learning is a never ending process- one learns from their mistakes and successes and keeps evolving. At the same time, listening to others is absolutely essential to this process. No matter how far you go as a leader, you have to keep your eyes and years on the ground, seeking advice and good counsel.

Who is your role model

I count my father as a critically important formative role model. A diplomat, he was comfortable living and working all around the world, wherever he was assigned. What I value most about him was that he made a point of doing what was right, even when it wasn’t easy. 

A few pearls of wisdom for the youth

Possess a near-insatiable curiosity and an eagerness to learn something new every day. Be open to travel and explore the world, work from any location and be genuinely interested in other people and their cultures. However, don't forget the basics of writing and speaking in simple language, minus the PowerPoint slides.

Importance of relationships

Relationship are the foundation for success - you never know when someone can help you out or when you can do something good for someone. We live in a world that is growing more digital and social by the day, never have we had such power to reach out and keep them flourishing

Key lessons you learnt in your days with Coca-Cola

I would say at every stage of my career, I have learnt a few things. Early on, I learnt vital lessons of respecting cash and developing empathy. In my current role, it has been about setting a vision for the future, communicating priorities, leveraging credibility and relationships to help our company and bottling system work together as one united team.

Define a Coca-Cola employee

The people in the organization are best described as “constructively discontent”. Since our earliest days of growing, our business has been consistent and pushing forward

A message for the Coca-Cola family across the Globe?

We are building the business not just for the next quarter, but for the next quarter of a century

Muhtar Kent is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, The Coca-Cola Company