Roberto Goizueta

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Roberto Goizueta
Roberto Goizueta.jpg
Roberto Críspulo Goizueta Cantera

(1931-11-18)November 18, 1931
DiedOctober 18, 1997(1997-10-18) (aged 65)
Known forCEO/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 Spain to Cuba in the late 19th century. His mother's father, Marcelo Cantera, owned a portion of a profitable, 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. 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 a Help Wanted ad in his local newspaper. A short time later, he was promoted to Chief Technical Director of five Cuban bottling plants.

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. 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 (who was Coca-Cola's President from 1974–1979) resigned. In March 1981, he assumed the chairmanship after Chairman J. Paul Austin (who was Coca-Cola's President 1962–1971) retired. He remained at the helm of The Coca-Cola Company for 16 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. In 1982, he introduced Diet Coke, followed by Cherry Coke and the controversial New Coke, both in 1985; 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.

Goizueta also sat on the Board of Directors for various companies, including SunTrust Banks, the Ford Motor Company, Sonat Inc and the Eastman Kodak Company. He was well known for his business rivalry with fellow businessman Roger Enrico, CEO of PepsiCo during his tenure as Coke's CEO.[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 four children.[1]


A heavy smoker, Goizueta died of causes related to cancer.


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". Archived from the original on 2008-02-09. Retrieved 2012-11-17.

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