Monday, March 21, 2011

Kent Leads Coca-Cola into the future with Sustainability Strategy

Muhtar Kent is not just the CEO of Coca-Cola, but is also the CSO (Chief Sustainability Officer) as well. He appointed himself to the position of CSO because he recognizes the importance of sustainability. He believes that it is his responsibility as a leader to create change from the top of the organization, down throughout the entire organization.  Kent has recently implemented a broad-ranging sustainability strategy at Coca-Cola he calls "Live Positively." This new strategy is integrated with Coca-Cola's overall business plan, and involves environmental, market, community, and workplace initiatives. This new strategy not only involves Coca-Cola's operations, but also spreads out to the company's suppliers and bottlers as well. Kent has established several goals to be met by this new strategy. For one, Coke is going "water neutral." This means that the company plans to return as much water to the word as it uses. This will reduce its carbon footprint for manufacturing operations by 5% in developed countries by 2015. This will also allow Coke to recover all its packaging to be reused rather than be sent to landfills. Going water neutral not only benefits the environment, but lowers the cost of production, lowers the break-even points, and allows Coke to spend more money on brands. Another part of the strategy is the introduction of the "PlantBottle," which is a partially bio-plastic bottle that is up to 30% plant material and 100% recyclable. PlantBottle is the first plastic bottle from renewable sources that can be recycled along with other PET plastic bottles in the existing recycling infrastructure. Coke has also committed to eliminate the use of hydro fluorocarbon gases in all of its new vending machines and coolers by 2015. Mr. Kent is not just a manager at Coca-Cola, but is a leader at the company. He is trying to create a change for the future by implementing his new "Live Positively" strategy. Kent is clearly an authentic leader via the intrapersonal definition. He leads with his own convictions. He is genuine, original, and bases his actions on his own personal values. He decided to make himself Chief Sustainability Officer, instead of nominating someone else. He also claims that he never plans on giving up his duties as the CSO. Kent has a vision for the future of his company, and his employees share his vision.

Do you think Coca-Cola can meet its goals?
Do you believe Pepsi will implement a similar strategy?
Do you feel Kent's leadership style is a good fit for his company?

Source of article:

Posted By: Jerret Baker


  1. Sounds like they have a stable plan in place and with many fresh, innovative ideas and support from the public will follow. Considering the fact that these projects are benefiting them financially, also suggests that they will not abandon the plan and therefore there are not major obstacles in the way of them meeting their goals. Also, considering that Coca-Cola and Pepsi mimic each other as one of them comes up with new design or marketing ideas, it would be quite natural to see Pepsi follow the example and dive into the sustainability pool. This current trend gains a lot of brownie points with the customers, and is important enough for many people to even switch products. Not making similar moves would definitely make Pepsi fall behind.
    As far as leadership aspect goes, he seems like a very future-orientated, innovative and persistent individual which will definitely move the company ahead into very bright prospects. I would partially classify him as a transformational leader because of all the changes he is pushing for with obviously an extensive amount of research done previously. I respect them for not choosing the easy route of copying basic sustainability projects that are popular among many companies, and instead are looking for new ways (such as eliminating the use of fluorocarbon gases from vending machines).

    Mingaile Orakauskaite

  2. This is a great example of a leader supporting a cause he believes in. Many times use companies use greenwashing to make it seem as if they care about protecting the environment but only do so to increase their company image. If I were Pepsi, I would make sure the company implemented plans that aligned with Pepsi's strategy and not just as a reaction to what the competition is doing.
    Kent's leadership style seems to fit his position well. It can be highly beneficial for CEOs to lead this type of change in the organization. It creates more of a legitimacy to the program and that the company is committed to it.
    Kellen Hill