Academic journal article International Journal of Sport Finance

Executive Interview

Academic journal article International Journal of Sport Finance

Executive Interview

Article excerpt

An Interview with David G. Brooks, General Manager of the Beijing Olympics for Coca-Coca China

Career Highlights

* Director, Athens 2004 Olympic Torch Relay, The Coca-Cola Company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Led planning and activation of the first worldwide Olympic Torch Relay across 34 cities, including all host cities of the modern summer Olympics since 1896; over 15 million live spectators . . . an amazing experience.

* Chief Executive Officer, Coca-Cola China Beverages, based in Beijing, China.

Led the start-up and expansion of a new bottling group covering 14 provinces in China in 2001 2003. A challenging but enjoyable role starting up a new national Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sales and distribution system in China, building infrastructure and putting market development and capability plans in place.

* Region Manager, Coca-Cola Southern Africa, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Led strategic planning and marketing/operations for Coca Cola in South Africa from 1995-1998, just following the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994.

* General Manager, Hainan Coca-Cola Beverages, Hainan Island, China.

At 27, I had the opportunity to lead the start-up of a new Coca-Cola joint venture in South China. This involved building a new company from zero to over 300 employees, construction of a bottling plant, and building a sales/distribution infrastructure-an indelible learning experience.

Q: Please describe your role and responsibilities as the GM of the Olympics.

A: My current role is vice president and general manager of our Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Project Group, based in Beijing, China. My team leads the planning and implementation of our Beijing 2008 Olympic Games programs, with a focus on operational marketing programs. As Coca-Cola has sponsored the Olympic Games continuously since 1928, we have a well-defined process for organizing each succeeding Olympic Games. This usually starts with identifying a manager from the host country business system to lead the local Olympic programs.

I would describe both my role and our team's overall role in five ways: we lead the planning and implementation of the Olympic programs starting from about four years out from the Games; we integrate Olympic planning across all the many functions and entities in our business system, which is focused mostly on delivering near-term results; we represent Coca-Cola to the local Olympic Games Organizing Committee (BOCOG); we develop a high-performing team ready to implement our sponsorship programs; and most importantly we seek to "inspire and refresh everyone we touch" in the process. "Lead / Integrate / Represent / Develop / Inspire" . . . that really captures our unique role.

Q: How did you break into the soft-drink industry? Tell me a little bit about your professional background leading up to your current position.

A: Like many careers, mine started with a false trail. I studied literature in college, a subject that I really enjoyed and that is still an inspiration to me. After graduation in 1984, I accepted a job with an American law firm in Shanghai, where I helped open the local practice as a legal assistant. I had spent part of my childhood in China during the mid-1970s and had good Chinese language skills by this time. At the time, I intended to go on to law school, but the sharp contrast between my law-related work and the incredible human energy on the streets of Shanghai in 1985-1987 was just too great: the idea of spending my entire life in an office working with documents paled very quickly.

In 1987, Coca-Cola China was making a historic move to open the first local Coca-Cola concentrate plant in China and also to set up the first direct joint ventures. When the region manager of Coca-Cola China at the time, Dr. R. Fenton-May, asked me to join The Coca Cola Company, I jumped.

One of the wonderful things about the Coca-Cola business is that it is truly universal, not just in the sense of taking place in over 200 countries, but also in the sense that it takes place every day in the homes, stores, and streets of the world. …

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