Mississippi College

Coca-Cola CEO Among Several Distinguished Speakers Hosted by MC School of Business

October 13, 2008

Coca-Cola Enterprises CEO John Brock spoke of the nation's economic plight, new Coke products, and what it takes to be a leader.

His speech to hundreds of Mississippi College School of Business students gave them insights they cannot gain from today's textbooks.

A Moss Point native whose parents are Mississippi College graduates, Brock "is one of the most accomplished executives in the United States," business dean Marcelo Eduardo told students and faculty packing the auditorium in Self Hall Thursday.

Brock's speech was much more than a plug for Coke products from Coke Zero to Diet Coke to the newly acquired Monster energy drink. He spoke to students of what it's like to compete globally when America is experiencing a financial crisis that's hitting Wall Street and Main Street.

"We are in the middle of the storm today. The economy is truly in a tailspin," the Georgia Tech graduate told students. "Consumer confidence is at a 30-year low."

Still, the Coca-Cola executive from Atlanta headquarters predicts America's economy will weather the storm and rebound.

Brock, who is chairman and CEO of Cola-Cola Enterprises, joined the company in April 2006. The Georgia-based company is the largest marketer, distributor and producer of Coca-Cola products in the world. Coca-Cola Enterprises sells about 80 percent of The Coca Cola Company's bottle and can volume in North America. His appearance at MC was covered by Clarion-Ledger business reporter Jeff Ayres in Friday's editions.

Brock's ties to MC and Clinton run deep. Brock would often visit his grandfather, an MC alumnus, and attend First Baptist Church in Clinton. After his speech, he and his wife, Mary, attended a business luncheon with MC President Lee Royce, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and community business leaders. Earlier in the day, the Mississippi native met with Gov. Haley Barbour.

His speech in the Ed Trehern Business Lecture Hall was well-received by students, including many who are Coca-Cola customers. "I drink Diet Coke a lot," said junior Kirby May, 21, of Brandon. She said his speech delivered much new information about Coke products, but also about the workings of the business world. "I learned a lot from it."

MC's School of Business distinguished lecture series is funded by Merchants & Farmers Bank. Eduardo and other MC leaders say they are delighted to welcome outstanding speakers like Brock to the Clinton campus. Over the past few years, MC business students have heard speakers like Delta Health Group executive Ed Trehern, a 1969 MC graduate who's a Pascagoula native.

Al Stubblefield, president and CEO of Baptist HealthCare, Charles Vianey, a partner with IBM Global Business Services, and Frank Gallaher, president of Gallaher & Associates, a management consulting company in Florida are among others speaking to MC School of Business students as part of the series.

Joe C. Morris, president of Morris Petroleum, David Landrum, an executive with Primerica, and Thomas Hawk of Pearl, an MC graduate and retired leader with United Parcel Service, have been among other speakers. Earlier this fall, Jim Coggin, retired chief administrative officer with Saks, Inc., addressed students at the MC School of Business.

PHOTO: Coca-Cola Enterprises CEO John Brock spoke to hundreds of Mississippi College School of Business students.

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