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Berges Lecture Series

Neville Isdell, Former Chairman and CEO, Coca Cola Company

September 30, 2009

Neville Isdell

Neville Isdell is the former Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of The Coca-Cola Company. After 43 years in the Coca-Cola system, Mr. Isdell retired in April 2009 after leading a seamless transition to his successor.
Building on an incredibly rich and successful history, Mr. Isdell took the world’s largest beverage company to new heights during his tenure. Under his leadership, the Company reached high levels of employee engagement, allowing the employees themselves to chart the Company’s path toward continued growth and profitability. He expanded on the Company’s proud legacy of corporate responsibility by embedding sustainability throughout every facet of the organization and helping ensure its role as a community-connected 21st century enterprise. These efforts resulted in The Coca-Cola Company’s return to Fortune’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” list in 2006. In 2009, the Company moved up to the #12 spot in the global ranking.
Mr. Isdell joined The Coca-Cola Company in 1966 with the local bottling company in Zambia. After a number of key management assignments in South Africa, Australia, Philippines and Germany, he was named President of the Greater Europe Group in 1995. From 1998 to 2000, he served as Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Beverages Plc in Great Britain and oversaw that company’s merger with Hellenic Bottling to form Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC). In June 2004, Mr. Isdell was called out of retirement to lead The Coca-Cola Company as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
Mr. Isdell serves as Chairman of the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) and the U.S.-Russia Business Council. He is a trustee of the World Wildlife Fund and of the Center for Strategic & International Studies. He also serves on the Board of Directors of General Motors and on the global leadership panel of the United Nations Special Representative for Business & Human Rights. He is the recipient of Clinton Global Citizen Award, the Ellis Island International Medal of Honor and the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship.
Mr. Isdell received a bachelor's degree in social sciences from the University of Cape Town and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Program for Management Development. In 2007, he received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Ulster, and in 2009 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of International Laws degree by the Thunderbird School of Global Management and an honorary Doctor of Science degree in Economics by Queen’s University Belfast.

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