USA – The Coca-Cola Company today has announced a team of senior leaders who understand the company’s ‘clear mandate for change’ as the current President and COO James Quincey makes his first appointments, as he sets the stage to take over as CEO on May 1, this year.

The appointments, aimed at driving the Atlanta-based bottler’s ongoing transformation into a ‘growth-oriented, consumer-centered, total beverage company’, has seen the elevation of the Innovation and IT departments, to focus the company’s attention on innovation and growing importance of digital. 

“Today’s organizational announcement is another building block in our company’s transformational journey,” Quincey said in a press statement.

“We are moving quickly to structure our organization for faster growth and to ensure we can respond to the fast-changing needs of our consumers, customers, system and associates around the world. 

Each of the leaders named today is highly capable and understands our clear mandate for change, and I look forward to partnering with them as we transform our business for the future,” he added.

Among the key changes, the company has combined Global Marketing, Customer and Commercial Leadership, and Strategy into one combined function under the leadership of a new Chief Growth Officer to drive growth across the bottler’s five key strategic beverage categories: sparkling, juice/dairy/plant-based, tea and coffee, water and enhanced waters and energy. 

Francisco Crespo, who currently serves as President of the Mexico business unit, takes the newly created role of Chief Growth Officer. 

Crespo’s role will lead the evolving category cluster model focused around the five beverage categories with a clear mandate for driving global growth in all the categories.

Quincey has also appointed a Chief Innovation Officer, that elevates Global Research & Development into a stand alone innovation function reporting directly to the CEO, due to ‘the increased importance of innovation to the company’s growth plans.’

To drive the company’s digital agenda, ‘given the importance of digitization as a growth enabler for the company’s business’, the Information Technology function will report directly to the CEO under Quincey.

According to the company, the changes support work already under way to create a leaner, more agile corporate organization that is focused on strategy, governance and vital strategic initiatives, such as innovation and portfolio growth through leading brands and categories. 

They also follow changes made by Quincey to the company’s international operations leadership team last year.

Robert Long, currently Vice President, Research and Development, will report directly to the CEO as Chief Innovation Officer. 

This comes as Coke shifts its focus on accelerating the growth of its brand portfolio with hundreds of new products and continued innovation in beverages, packaging, ingredients and other areas of the business around the world.

Current Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Barry Simpson will remain in his role but his role will be elevated to report to the CEO to ‘increase visibility and focus on efforts to digitize all aspects of the company’s business.’

With these changes, Quincey is setting up a newly invigorated team that will be responsible for turning the fortunes of the beverage giant as it grapples with falling soda sales in the developed economies.

He is set to take over from current CEO Mukhtar Kent on May 1 this year.