Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent Explains Why Everything's All About Cash

coca cola coke ceo muhtar kent

Photo: AP

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent runs his company by being an entrepreneur and focusing on cash. He calls his leadership philosophy “constructively discontent.” This exchange between Kent and Patricia Sellers at Fortune, who traveled through Asia with him, paints an intriguing picture about how Kent runs the iconic beverage company.

“I ask Kent what “constructively discontent” — his preferred description of his leadership — means exactly. ‘Not fast enough, not innovative enough, not entrepreneurial enough,’ he replies. ‘It’s all about an entrepreneurial mentality. I’ve worked religiously to get that into the company.’ Injecting entrepreneurial religion involves getting Coke’s 146,000 employees to think like owners. ‘People need to feel like they are chasing pennies down the hallway'”

It’s about the respect for cash, Kent told Sellers. His devotion to that manifests itself in many ways. For instance, he always pays cash when he fills his car up at a gas station, keeps a hefty money clip in his pocket, only looks at Coke’s share price once a week.

And at Coke, managers have to pay $15 a month if they want to use their mobile phones for personal calls (and yes, that rule applies to the CEO too).

“When you don’t see cash, all sorts of things go wrong,” he told Sellers. “You overspend as an individual and overspend as a company.”

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