Right before I left Atlanta to learn about Coke operations in Asia about 11 years ago, then-CEO Douglas Ivester had a suggestion. He told me to ask company execs in China, Japan and Vietnam about their vision for their markets in 100 years.
As the newspaper’s beverage reporter at the time, Ivester’s suggestion seemed less odd to me than it might to you. Of all the companies I’ve covered, execs at Coke think further into the future than any others. The company doesn’t plan for marathons. It’s in the ultramarathon business.
That’s probably one of the reasons Coke is celebrating its 125th anniversary May 8. So with Ivester’s suggestion in mind, I asked current CEO Muhtar Kent how he views the next 125 years when I sat down with him recently. I figured someone on North Avenue already has the game plan detailed in a loose-leaf book divided by decades.
“In the world, 125 years is