The Coca-Cola Company Silicon Valley Lead, External Technology Acquisition
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
Um, yeah, it's ah, kind of an interesting answer, Thio. Or maybe a long winded answer to an interesting question. Um, so I I kind of I don't really have a linear career path. Um, I've been generally in the food and ag tech world's here in Silicon Valley for the past decade or so, but, um, I kind of felt backwards into where I am today. So I, fresh out of college, actually pursued, um, kind of the policy track. So spent the first couple of years out of college in Washington D. C um, doing various ah kind of policy work on Capitol Hill and a couple of think tanks, um, and then came back Ah, here to San Francisco to work for a nonprofit after spending some time in Washington, D. C um, And at that time I was roommates with a guy who was a startup founder. Um and, ah, you know, the whole startup venture world at that time was totally new to me. I didn't know about it, but I would interact with my roommate quite a bit and kind of fell in love with that whole scene. It was creative. It was technical it was scrapping, um, was kind of a Morpheus, um, and and that I kind of caught the bug, But there was a lot of inertia behind what I I thought I wanted to do, which was still kind of policy world that time. So I went back to graduate school, um, back in Washington, D. C. In international relations and economics. Um, and, you know, as happens a lot in life, that was a good experience from the perspective of, ah, figuring out what you don't want to do s o that second timer from D. C. I figured out pretty quickly that the policy world don't really fit very well for me. Um, and, uh, concurrent to my graduate studies, I started working part time with a large Japanese trading firm. Their office in Washington, Um, in the head of that office at the time. Really great guy became a mentor, and, ah, and he knew that my heart was not kind of in the work that they were doing in Washington. So he said, uh, you know, why don't we set you up in our Silicon Valley office? Um And so I transitioned from Arab. I graduated from grad school, um, to a position in with the same firm here. It here in Silicon Valley. Um, and, uh, that firm, it's Mitsubishi Corporation, the largest trading furman in Japan. They kind of have, ah, holdings operations across basically every vertical you think of, um and, uh, kind of my policy background. I was very attracted to big, um, impact legacy industries, where there was a lot of room for innovation, destruction, and you could have kind of maximum impact society. Um and so I kind of naturally gravitated to the business group within that firm That kind of handled all of the well, vertically integrated. So everything from, you know, production agriculture down to retail, right? So that whole kind of value change and through that kind of started networking heavily your inventor ecosystem with no some ah, met some folks who eventually became ah, you know, colleagues, co founders of mine first helped to found an organization called the Mixing bowl. Um, obviously, ah, if folks are familiar with startup grind, basically a platform to connect innovators in food Mac tech. Um

What are the responsibilities and decisions that you handle at work? Discuss weekly hours you spend in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: Silicon Valley Lead, External Technology Acquisition, The Coca-Cola Company
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
just some up. Very reductive. Lee. I'm like, I'm basically the start of guy, um, at Coke. And so, uh, my main responsibilities. We have a few big bucket strategic interest areas in the organization and within each kind of big bucket area, what we're trying to do is source external innovations to kind of, um salt solve those challenge areas. So I spent a lot of time running around with venture capitalists and start ups. You're in the area within those categories trying to find, um, solutions and then on the on the Coke side than connecting those into our business units and other teams. Um, with the pianos to actually bring those things to market. So, um, it's a lot of tech scouting coursing and then building the business logic around, um, primarily the structure of pilots and proofs of concept experiments and co development agreements. These kinds of things. Um, I spent the greater part of last year building Ah, little accelerator for the company. Um, it's right. I run that now as well. Um, and, ah, you know, I mean, typical of a lot of jobs now, weekly hours, it varies greatly. Uh, and I I actually worked remote. So Coca Cola, of course, is headquartered in Atlanta. I'm based here in Silicon Valley. The rest of my team is in Atlanta. Um, having said that, we're a global team. So I also have colleagues that I worked with across Europe and Singapore in Shanghai and Mexico, e m Australia. Japan. So, um yeah, but most of my travel is gonna to that, of course, yeah.

How do you evaluate companies and what methods do you use? How much weight do you give to various information sources and signals in your company valuation?

Based on experience at: Silicon Valley Lead, External Technology Acquisition, The Coca-Cola Company
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
so the personalities and politics of different business units and different geography is within the organization is often very different. But but it's actually what my team is mainly responsible for is kind of checking the box on technical validation. Um, so we need to make sure that all the companies that I interact with our, um this is not gonna be dangerous or, you know, the science. Ah, is legit. Um, you know, the claims that companies make our our ballot right? So that's why restructure these pilots and crews of concepts to kind of validate those things? No. And that how much weight?So based on the investors, you know, I'm working on the interstate threat. So based on the strength of the investors replication of the investors, companies that are in their portfolio, I really I work with a few B C's very closely and really kind of value their input beyond that, you know, top of the fun stuff. We insides crunch base, you know, the rest and ah, but it's It's really a human driven process. Yeah. Yes, sir. Uh

What tools (software programs, models, algorithms) do you use at work? Do you prefer certain tools more than the others? Why?

Based on experience at: Silicon Valley Lead, External Technology Acquisition, The Coca-Cola Company
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
Microsoft teams and yammer for communication. Um, you know, we don't use any algorithms or anything like that. I mean, besides, what's embedded on back end of platforms like CB insights and things like this, um, I personally is slack. Quite a bit. And, ah, there's some CR M tools. I used to kind of help organize our pipeline. Um, all right, Yeah. I mean, nothing to sophisticated here, you know? Yeah. Um, there are a lot of things I like, You know, Coca Cola's It is a huge organization, huge global organization, and

What things do you like about your job? Were there any pleasant surprises?

Based on experience at: Silicon Valley Lead, External Technology Acquisition, The Coca-Cola Company
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
coke that I get to work with on an innovation level. Um ah, that are There are a lot of sports marketing, food service. So anything about Coca Cola here in North America is 80% of food service were very, very heavily involved in creating value out of business solutions for our food service partners. That's restaurants, right? Hotel, casino, sports, universities, museums, amusement parks, these kind of things. So, um, there's a lot of fun stuff that happens there up and down Value chain, um, everything from user experience. Uh, yeah, at sight and facility down Thio Looking at a lot of stuff in, uh, the evolving space of delivery, self driving. How that's affecting that, um, coke is also it's a very diverse organization. You know, Of course, being a global organization, I get to work with teams from all over the world. And, of course, every geography, every culture has a different way of approaching problems and and thinking about things that's going to kind of navigate that and figure out you know what works best in different ideologies? Um, I mean, today I've actually only been with coke for about two years, but today you know, I've I've worked on projects with folks from Latin America, from Western Europe, from Eastern Europe. Ah, from West Africa, from Australia, from Japan, from Shanghai. Ah, you know, so kind of all over the place. So it's It's fine. No. Yeah, so outside of the organization has pretty straightforward. It's it's usually, you know, founder CEO. I'm working with a lot of early stage startups, Um, and

What are the job titles of people you routinely work with inside and outside of your organization? What approaches do you find to be effective in working with them?

Based on experience at: Silicon Valley Lead, External Technology Acquisition, The Coca-Cola Company
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
board up to our chief innovation officer on below that you have kind of directors, different kind of functional areas. Um, and then beyond that, we work a lot with our head of M and A. We work with our Ventures and Emerging Brands unit. Ah. We work with the VP of, um, Global Ventures, um, and then our chief technology officer and her office. Um, so pretty, pretty diverse now. No. Um I mean, the biggest challenge with with my kind of role is, um, we are a cost center in that, you know, you don't own a business line ourselves, and so we're always trying to sell.

What major challenges do you face in your job and how do you handle them? Can you discuss a few accomplishments?

Based on experience at: Silicon Valley Lead, External Technology Acquisition, The Coca-Cola Company
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
it would be very, very benefit. You know, in the short term, it creates incremental work for them, right? So it's it's a challenge to try and sell. Um, essentially new work for people do right? So it's a big challenge. Um, I think the my my best accomplishment in that regard as faras the creation of the acceleration program I built. What I found is, if you create the environment and, um, make innovation something exciting, something tangible. Um ah, folks are more apt to participate effectively. And and that's what we did with the acceleration program. It's a challenge based accelerator. And so we we solicit challenges from different teams in the organization and meet those with external innovations startups, Um and then they work collaboratively together. Um ah, you know, face to face, which, you know, makes the process a lot easier when you can actually touch, see, feel what? You're what you're trying to implement rather than having a B a very academic process, which often has some, huh? Yeah, yeah. Um, I you know, it's a It's a good question because I'm kind of a unique fit on my team. Most of my team and s O. We sit in our global RND unit and most of the rest of global rnd our technical people, um, you know, they have PhDs and like biology or

What qualities does your team look for while hiring? What kind of questions does your team typically ask from candidates?

Based on experience at: Silicon Valley Lead, External Technology Acquisition, The Coca-Cola Company
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
actual game, but that the main kind of, uh, criteria that Coca Cola, as a company is looking for. There's a few kind of these gross behaviors that we call him. Um, And I think the most important one for us is to be a narrative. Um, and then to be curious, um, so constantly curious Never, Never. Just accept the status quo for what it is, right? Um and then being innovative means, uh, your job is kind of never done. You're you're constantly living in beta, so to speak, like everything is evolving, right? And being comfortable with with the environment, um, kind of more stew stochastic environment than a a strict kind of linear, deterministic thing. So, um, in terms of questions that are key in typically ass of Canada, I mean, it really depends on the roll. There's a heavy emphasis on, um, within our group on technical capacity. Um, but I think like most companies, ultimately the difference between a successful candidate and I'm not successful candidate will be fit, uh, culturally, Um, generally speaking within our group, each team is is relatively small, and so you're really de cohesion within each team. Uh, and So I I would say that that's the most important thing. You know, the end of the day. Uh, everything still remains human. We can automate the crap out of every process that we engage in. But at the end of the day, it's all about relationships. It's all about, um, kind of that human touch. So, um, yeah, that's that's what I say is more or uh huh um, yeah, so typical hiring process, you know, usually several rounds, school meeting and kind of ah ah, hiring committee. Uh, that that does kind of the final hiring, and that will be comprised of your direct.

What is a typical hiring process for a job like yours? What are the titles of people who interview? What questions usually get asked and how to handle them?

Based on experience at: Silicon Valley Lead, External Technology Acquisition, The Coca-Cola Company
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
the head of the whole, uh, kind of functional unit. Um, and that, you know, again, that ranges the titles. You know, VP down toe. You know, director of some function, Um, the questions that usually get asked. I just kind of talked about this in the last one. Um, yeah. I mean, it's it's generally about the general technical skills and then a lot on these growth behaviors. Right? Which is a process that cultural fit. Yeah. Um, yeah. Again, this one is kind of hard for me to answer, because I I've had such kind of a securitised route to me. You know, previous two Coke I I was a founder of a startup, and previous to that, I was a founder of a startup, and previous to that, I was said, Ah, and kind of a corporate venture, Cork Dev roll. And then previous to that, I was working for a non profit, you know? So, um, I think that I think the mo

What are different entry-level jobs and subsequent job pathways that can lead students to a position such as yours?

Based on experience at: Silicon Valley Lead, External Technology Acquisition, The Coca-Cola Company
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
don't have to be a specific industry. It doesn't have to be a specific job function. Just find what drives you and let that guide what you do, right? And just don't don't give up. No matter what path you choose, you're gonna run into adversity. You're gonna run. You're gonna have failure. Whatever. And I think he is to just, uh I don't give a crap. Just, you know, just keep pushing ahead and keep keep moving with the vision that you have for where you wanna end up. And, um, you know, this is gonna this is gonna sound terrible. I think most people, um when they enter a new situation, they look around them and they think I won't be able to measure up after trying whatever that new thing is for a little bit. They realized everybody around them is actually stupid, you know? So the point is, don't don't be intimidated by people. Just have a clearer clear you no idea of where you want to end up. I can't That that doesn't necessarily have to be a linear thing, but, you know, hold on to your vision. Don't listen to the Doubters and just I mean, sounds terribly cliche, but but it really is true. Um, yeah. The other thing I'd say about that is I had a professor in college who had very, very wise words. He said, You know, it doesn't matter what you do, it matters more who you do it with. And I definitely found that to be true because I have pursued certain things over the course of the last 15 years or what career? Um, your I thought what I was doing was really awesome. But the people I was doing it were awful. And it ruined what I was doing right, So find the right people to work. But that doesn't mean to be discriminatory or anything like this. But it's just to say I find your people and you will be way more successful if you can find your people than if you can find the thing that you want to do, right? So I have so many friends who went into finance, for instance, and half of them hate their lives because everybody around them is a complete douche bag. It ruins everything. They make a lot of money, but they're miserable, right? So what's the tradeoff there. Right? So find people find the environment that allows you to thrive and then, you know, push forward with your vision through that. And if you do that, I think your odds of being successful, whatever that means to you personally, goes way up, right? Goes way up so that you might, uh yeah. Didn't we already do, sir? Yes. Way already answered. Yeah, again. You know, to be honest with you, I had an idea going into grad school, um, of what I wanted to do, and it just changed dramatically. So, to be honest with you, I do not really use my degree at all.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: MA, International Relations and Economics, The Johns Hopkins University - Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
you know, unless you're going into a very strictly R and D or kind of academic field, most of what you do, how you grow in your career is a vocational thing, and you learn the skills on the job. Um, I think the most important thing going into it is you're just willing to show up and work really hard. Um, and what I found is in my own years, I've looked at other people. The most successful people I've been around have not always been the smartest. They have not always been the best looking, but moral, not They've been the hardest work, right? So I think that's the most important thing, you know, And my bachelors degree was in Asian stuff has nothing to do with anything I'm doing right now. So I think the most important thing is and develop that vision and just work your hardest at it. Um, yeah, yeah. I mean, I I have always been, um, a creative person. So I grew up playing music. I played in bands for years and years and years, you know, did the whole thing played in a lot of smoky, dark clubs and, you know, released records and sold them March tables at indie rock shows and stuff like this. And I've dabbled in film and um, and also each other creative pursuits and and that's really guided. You know, that's been part of my own personal vision.

Would you like to share something that is not on your resume? This may include your passions, facing setbacks or adversities, a unique experience, or an unexpected help.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
context, But that's been the overall kind of driving force and everything that I've done I have to create, um and so that kind of background in kind of creative fields has really kind of driven that inside of me. So, um yeah, that that that the moment I see kind of diminishing returns on my ability to create within any given role, I my eyes start opening whiter and I start looking around because I need Thio. I need to make stuff. Yeah, um, yeah. Again, I I would just drive home that notion again of just, um Just just try your best to be who you are. I've been in many different interviewing situations and even jobs where I've every day I've felt the need to kind of conform myself too. The people around me, the system around me, and the result was

Do you have any parting advice for students hoping to get to a position such as yours? What 3 dos and 3 don'ts would you suggest?

Based on experience at: Silicon Valley Lead, External Technology Acquisition, The Coca-Cola Company
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
be that person. And don't be afraid. And you know what if it doesn't work in a current role? Ah, that's probably a good thing, because you would probably be miserable for the next. However long you stay in that role, right? So, um, really be honest with yourself as to who you are. And that's not to say there is a certain amount of conformity that is required for performance in any job, because at the end of the day of job is a job. But, um, you know, within reason, allow yourself to just be who you are, um, and and let that kind of guide where you end up right s o that would kind of encapsulate those three DUIs and three downs. Don't BP who you are. And don't be who you're not, you know, because the results for that effort the ladder of trying to be someone that you're not, is Ah, it always come across really bad. Never works out. So no. Yeah. Oh, I don't know about that, but you have to help out. Thank you. You too. Thank you.