Roberto Goizueta

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Goizueta and the second or maternal family name is Cantera.
Roberto C. Goizueta
Roberto Goizueta.jpg
Born Roberto Críspulo Goizueta Cantera
(1931-11-18)November 18, 1931
Havana, Cuba
Died October 18, 1997(1997-10-18) (aged 65)
Atlanta, Georgia
Nationality Cuban
Known for CEO/Chairman of Coca-Cola (1980–1997)

Roberto Críspulo Goizueta Cantera (November 18, 1931 – October 18, 1997) was Chairman, Director, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Coca-Cola Company from August 1980 until his death in October 1997.

Early life[edit]

Roberto C. Goizueta was born on November 18, 1931 in Havana, Cuba.[1] He was the only son of Críspulo and Aída Goizueta. His grandparents on both sides of his family had emigrated from the Basque Country to Cuba in the late 19th century. His mother's father, Marcelo Cantera, owned a profitable portion of a local sugar mill. His father, Críspulo, was an architect and a real estate investor who inherited Cantera's sugar interests.

Goizueta attended Colegio de Belén in Havana,[2] a Jesuit secondary school and later studied for a year in the United States at the Cheshire Academy, a preparatory school in Connecticut. He graduated from Yale University with a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering in 1953.[1]


Goizueta returned to Cuba to work in his family's business in 1953. Fidel Castro rose to power in Cuba, transforming the island into a communist state. While on vacation in Miami, Goizueta and his family decided to defect to the United States. A year after returning to Cuba to work in his family's business, Goizueta found himself working for the Coca-Cola bottler in Cuba after replying to an anonymous want ad in his local newspaper. A short time later, he was promoted to Chief Technical Director of five Cuban bottling plants.

After defecting to the United States, he worked for The Coca-Cola Company in Miami. He was reassigned to Nassau, Bahamas as a Chemist for the Caribbean region. In 1964, he was moved to the headquarters of the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of 35, he became Vice President of Technical Research and Development. He remains the youngest person to hold this position at the company. In 1975, he was promoted to lead the Legal and External Affairs department.

He received a surprising appointment in 1979, to become President of the Coca-Cola Company after then officer J. Lucian Smith (Coca Cola President 1974-1979) resigned. In March 1981, he assumed the chairmanship after Chairman J. Paul Austin (Coca Cola President 1962-1971) retired. He remained at the helm of The Coca-Cola Company for sixteen years until the time of his death, due to complications from lung cancer, in 1997. During his tenure, the Coca-Cola brand became the best-known trademark in the world. He introduced Diet Coke, New Coke, Cherry Coke and the advertising slogans "Coke is it!", "You Can't Beat the Feeling" and "Always Coca-Cola".

In 1982, Goizueta approved the purchase of Columbia Pictures, signaling Coca-Cola's intentions to branch out beyond the soft-drink business. Many analysts believed Coca-Cola had paid too much for the film studio, which, like all entertainment companies, was subject to the unpredictable whims of the movie-going public. Goizueta found himself uncomfortable in a business he knew little about, and in 1989, he sold Columbia to Sony for $3 billion.

He also sat on the Board of Directors for various companies, including SunTrust Banks, the Ford Motor Company, and the Eastman Kodak Company.

Goizueta was well known for his business rivalry with fellow businessman Roger Enrico, CEO of PepsiCo.[3]


Roberto Goizueta established the Goizueta Foundation, with a goal to support educational and charity institutions in 1992. "The purpose of the Goizueta Foundation is to assist organizations that empower individuals and families through educational opportunities to improve the quality of their lives."

In 1994, after a $10 million gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, the Board of Trustees at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, named its business school after Roberto Goizueta. The school grants BBAs, MBAs, and PhDs in business. Emory University has an extensive history with Coca-Cola. In 1899, Methodist Bishop Warren Candler's brother Asa Candler was elected to Emory's Board of Trustees and was a generous patron of the university.

In January 1999, the estate of Goizueta pledged $20 million to Emory University.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Goizueta married Olguita Casteleiro.[1] They had three children.[1]

Goizueta was a dog breeder. His champion Pembroke Welsh Corgi showdog, "Fizz," won "Best of Breed" at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 1996 and 1997.

Death and legacy[edit]

A heavy smoker, Goizueta died of causes related to lung cancer.[5] His son Roberto S. Goizueta is a prominent Catholic theologian who is currently the Margaret O'Brien Flatley Professor of Catholic Theology at Boston College.

Ancestors of Roberto Goizueta[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Starrs, Chris (June 24, 2005). "Roberto Goizueta (1931-1997)". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Georgia Humanities Council. Retrieved January 13, 2016. 
  2. ^ The International Jesuit Alumni Directory Belen (Forum Press Inc., 1994)
  3. ^ DK Publishing (August 17, 2009). 1000 CEOs. Penguin Books. p. 351. ISBN 9780756670573. Retrieved May 29, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Emory University: Highlights of Excellence and Achievement 1999". Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  5. ^ "Coke CEO Roberto C. Goizueta dies at 65 - Oct. 18, 1943". CNN. Retrieved 2012-11-17. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Allen, Frederick (1995). Secret Formula: How Brilliant Marketing and Relentless Salesmanship Made Coca-Cola the Best-Known Product in the World. HarperBusiness. ISBN 0-88730-751-5. 
  • Greising, David (1989). I'd Like the World to Buy a Coke: The Life and Leadership of Roberto Goizueta. Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated. ISBN 0-471-34594-6. 

External links[edit]