Coke Elects Brian Smith As New President, COO; CFO Weller Retiring

Brian Smith will take over as the new president and chief operating officer of The Coca-Cola Company on Jan 1., 2019, after the board of directors today elected the 21-year company veteran to succeed CEO James Quincey in the role.

Smith joined Coca-Cola in 1997 as Latin America Group Manager for mergers and acquisitions and has served in a variety of roles, including stints as president of the soda giant’s Brazil division and Mexico division from 2002 to 2012. He has served in his current role as president of Coke’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Group since 2016.

Smith’s official biography highlighted his work overseeing brand acquisitions in Latin America and, as EMEA head, growing organic revenues over the past eight quarters while integrating the three regional groups into a single operating unit.

“I have tremendous respect for Brian, who is a valued business partner,” said Quincey, who has continued to serve as president and COO since his appointment as CEO in May 2017, in a press release. “He is the ideal person to steer the in-market executional leadership of the company, which will allow me to focus on the strategic direction of Coca-Cola as we continue to evolve as a total beverage company.”

Coke also announced chief financial officer Kathy Weller is retiring and will be succeeded by John Murphy, president of the company’s Asia Pacific group, on Mar. 16, 2019.

Weller leaves Coke after a 32-year career at the company that began in 1987 as a Senior Accountant. She has served as executive vice president, CFO and president of Enabling Services since 2014, where she oversaw the company’s global finance organization.

In addition, Waller took an active role in promotion female leadership, supporting the creation and integration of Coca-Cola’s Women in Leadership Global Program and serving as the founding chair on its Women in Leadership Council. Waller also serves on the board of directors at Monster Energy Company and Delta Air Lines and on the board of trustees of Spelman College.

In the release, the company credited Waller as “instrumental in transforming, modernizing and simplifying the Coca-Cola finance function, especially technology solutions and in developing talent and keeping people at the forefront.”

“I join everyone at Coca-Cola in thanking Kathy for her many years of exemplary service to the company,” Quincey said in the the release. “She leaves a great legacy as a leader, including as a mentor who created a strong organization and put the building blocks in place to continue to transform and modernize our finance function.”

Waller’s successor, John Murphy, arrives with a range of international experience under his belt. Over the course of his tenure with Coca-Cola, Murphy has served as president of the South Latin America unit, president of the Latin Center unit, region manager in Indonesia and deputy president of Coca-Cola Japan, among other roles.

As president of Asia Pacific group, a position he’s held since 2016, Murphy oversaw operations in Greater China and Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, India and Southwest Asia and South Pacific. Murphy was also at the helm of Coke’s Bottling Investments Group with a focus on Southeast and Southwest Asia.

Coca-Cola also announced Nancy Quan, currently VP and chief technical officer for Coca-Cola North America, has been elected senior VP and appointed Chief Technology Officer, effective Jan. 1, 2019. She succeeds current CTO Ed Hays, who will transition to the role of senior advisor on Jan. 1, 2019 and retire from the company on March 31, 2019.

In addition, senior VP and CIO Barry Simpson will take on expanded duties, including oversight of Enabling Services, effective Jan 1., 2019. His new title will be senior VP and Chief Information and Integrated Services Officer.

Wells Fargo Securities analyst Bonnie Herzog commented that Smith’s promotion to president and COO will allow Quincey to focus on Coke’s larger strategic priorities, including “stepped-up M&A.” Herzog also noted that Smith and Murphy’s international expertise will be an asset for Coke as it builds global operations in key growth regions, like China.

“All in, today’s announcements remind us that [Coke] has a long track record of developing internal talent,” she wrote. “We think the company remains in good hands and continue to believe that the company is well-equipped to deliver robust +4-6 percent organic sales growth in coming years.”