Roberto C. Goizueta, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company from 1981 to 1997, founded The Goizueta Foundation in 1992. The Foundation’s six shared values were inspired by Mr. Goizueta and were attributes often used to describe him. It’s only fitting to tell his story through the lens of those values.
A Love of Learning
The Foundation’s focus is a direct result of the vital importance its founder placed on education. He earned a degree in chemical engineering from Yale University in 1953, all while teaching himself English. He never stopped learning. He read constantly, studied intentionally and was persistently curious.
Mr. Goizueta began his career with The Coca-Cola Company in 1954 as a chemist in its Cuban operations. After immigrating to the U.S. with his family, he continued with the Company in Miami until he relocated to its headquarters in Atlanta. His intellect, discipline, dedication and leadership potential earned him the position of chairman and CEO in 1981.
When Mr. Goizueta took the helm of the Company, the bottler system was unwieldy and inefficient, with only a few major brands and different types of packages. His ability to recognize opportunities, solve problems and take intelligent risks changed all of that. He consolidated bottlers. And the Company began introducing new beverages, including Diet Coke, Cherry Coke and New Coke.
Courage and Commitment
Introducing New Coke in 1985 was a risk that became a very smart move. Research said more people liked Coca-Cola made with a different formula. It didn’t, however, measure the love they had for The Real Thing. So the Company did the right thing: they brought it back as Coca-Cola classic. Sales in the U.S. soared.
Transparency and Trust
Though he was at the helm of the world’s most valuable and best-known brand, Roberto Goizueta did not seek the limelight. He would give credit where credit was due. But should he not agree with you, he would not hesitate to share his thoughts. It was this kind of openness and honesty that made him a man you could trust – and who could be trusted with one of the best-kept secrets in the world – the secret formula for Coca-Cola.
Excellence and Integrity
Mr. Goizueta had high expectations of others and himself. To him, excellence always should be the goal, whether professionally or personally. He kept a quote on his desk that reminded him daily of one very important way that excellence is achieved. It read “God is in the details,” and he believed it deeply. He was a man of integrity who earned the respect of bottling partners, world and business leaders, and the thousands of people whom he led.