To a room of approximately 600 business casual-clad and Coca-Cola-sipping students, community members and dancing polar bear mascots, Muhtar Kent, Coca-Colaâ€™s Chief Executive Officer, spoke of every institutionâ€™s â€œbinary choiceâ€ on campus Wednesday.
â€œWe can be part of the problem or part of the solution,â€ Kent said during a speech in the Lory Student Center Main ballroom. â€œWe can all do well to better listen to the needs of the world that may seem secondary to our personal endeavors.â€
Kentâ€™s visit comes in the wake of a 10-year deal between Coca-Cola and CSU in which the university will receive more than $5.2 million. The deal, which was finalized over summer, included a new Beverage Management Institute in the College of Business.
Although Kent acknowledged the â€œbright promise and bold prospectsâ€ of the contract with Coca-Cola, Kentâ€™s speech centered around the companyâ€™s â€œ2020 vision and road mapâ€ and general goals for a socially conscious enterprise.
The companyâ€™s vision for a â€œsustainable and socially responsible businessâ€ is summarized in a one-page document created when Kent officially took the title of CEO in 2008.
Kent and Coca-Cola plan to double business in the 10-year interval between 2010 and 2020, while remaining conscious of water stewardship, sustainable packaging, climate protection and work to create a sustainable community, according to Kent.
Results of implementing these ideas in practice would include a return of every liter of water the company uses in its production process and the removal of all waste in the life of a productâ€™s package.
â€œEven for a company like Coca-Cola, these goals could be a little more realistic,â€ said Abigail Holmberg, sophomore member of the Deanâ€™s Student Leadership Council for the College of Business. â€œBut, I mean, itâ€™s a cool idea if they can really do it.â€
Among talk of the companyâ€™s international presence in socially conscious business practice, Kent spoke of Arctic Home, the companyâ€™s most recent project working to save their beloved polar bear mascotâ€™s melting Arctic habitat, and encouragement to aspiring female business women.
â€œAs a female in the business college, I do sometimes feel looked down upon,â€ Holmberg said. â€œIt was great to see the CEO of Coca-Cola talk about empowering women in entrepreneurship.â€
Talk of the universityâ€™s partnership with the company was comparatively minimal, but Kent expressed his appreciation for the schoolâ€™s â€œmutual understanding and conversationâ€ regarding shared values in sustainable business growth.
â€œWe appreciate your passion, academic excellence and integrity,â€ he said. â€œTogether we are going to do great things and make life here in Colorado better.â€
While the precise details and technicalities of the relationship developing between the university and the internationally recognized company were not largely addressed, the audience still made out with a free drink and T-shirt, and John Hoxmeier, a dean in the College of Business, was â€œpleased.â€
â€œPeople, the planet and profit are all considered in a truly successful business, and this is exactly consistent with our collegeâ€™s vision,â€ Hoxmeier said. â€œWe try to turn out business students who are socially conscious, and Kentâ€™s message was in sync with the goal of the College of Business.â€
Collegian writer Colleen Canty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.