Total Rewards Asia Summit 2024 Singapore
Suite Talk: Coca-Cola's magical recipe to create a great place to work

Suite Talk: Coca-Cola's magical recipe to create a great place to work


Tim Warwick, Coca-Cola's VP of Franchise Operations, HK, TW, MO, and Mongolia, affirms the value of competitive C&B packages and benefits, flexible working hours, work-from-home options, and fun and engaging team activities.

Being associated with one of the great brands in the world for 16 years, Tim Warwick, Vice President of Franchise Operations, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and Mongolia, The Coca-Cola Company, believes the magical recipe for the company’s continuous success is a simple mix of the right ingredients – a good company, the right products, and great talent.

The opportunity to build brands, choices, and products that people love while refreshing the world and making a difference has kept him excited and motivated to go to work every day; while the associates, who he describes as “bright, capable, inspiring, and enjoyable” to work with, have filled his days with fresh thinking and new ideas.

Let's finds out more about his secret ingredients to make Coca-Cola a great place to work.

Q: With a remit across Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and Mongolia, what do you see as similar and/or different talent priorities in various markets and how do you address these priorities?

In general, while our associates in different markets have varied priorities, there is one thing that is similar across the board and that is that Coca-Cola associates, as individuals, are eager not only to learn, but to contribute.

When coming to interview for a role at Coca-Cola, many applicants are gifted and very creative, and already motivated. They know about the brands, they know what the brands have been doing and, most of the time, they are fans and they are eager to inject new ideas.

Although the brands have a long-standing heritage, we are also famous as a relentless innovator and for being open to new ideas to engage with our valued customers and loyal consumers. Across all markets, our people are the ones responsible for promoting and safeguarding our brand image and proposition.

Q: Coca-Cola Hong Kong has been recognised as one of the great places to work. Could you highlight some best practices that have helped foster a positive work experience and company culture?

At The Coca-Cola Company, we believe in the power of human potential, and thus are committed to recruiting and nurturing the best local and diverse talent to help us all thrive, and to providing our people with an unmatched career experience that is highly inspiring, engaging, and fulfilling.

This Great Place to Work Certification™ is an acknowledgement of our ongoing dedication to the employee experience, which is tremendous because it’s the only official recognition determined by our associates’ real-time reports of our company culture.

As a Great Place to Work, Coca-Cola empowers associates to refresh the world and make a difference in people’s lives, communities, and our planet by building loved brands together in a diverse and supportive workplace. We enable this with an agile team structure where associates have opportunities to rotate to other teams or even regions to gain experience on different brands.

With a networked system, working at one office in Coca-Cola means you will have a chance to work on a dozen different brands, from sparkling beverages, tea, water and juice, to sports drinks, and more.

Q: The Coca-Cola Company has businesses all over the world. How do you ensure the company culture is consistent across all markets, especially in your role managing franchise operations?

It is important to set a clear vision and goals across all markets while allowing each market to adopt their own style. Being consistent doesn’t mean it must be identical.

In The Coca-Cola Company, we believe in diversity. A culturally diverse team enables more creative and innovative discussions and often produces better results than you can imagine. A lot of the time, we have campaigns and/or strategies coming from a regional or global level, but we always keep in mind to allow space for local adaptation or interpretation that is the best fit for an individual market.

Recently our flagship Coca-Cola brand has been running a global campaign to promote the three simple, essential ingredients for a “recipe for magic” – the moment of connection, the meal, and an ice-cold Coca-Cola when friends and family gather around the table. While the global team provides a global platform and assets, our local teams adopt a ‘glocal’ (global + local) approach to fully tap into local insights and experiences – but with the same ‘end’ in mind, which is to celebrate the connective power of meals everywhere in the world.

Q: Given the business environment, what challenges and opportunities do you foresee in the markets you manage (HK, TW, Macau, Mongolia) in the short- to long-term?

In the short term, I think most of the markets are still recovering from the impact of COVID. We expect businesses to be coming back stronger, especially restaurants and eateries. COVID also changed customer drinking habits; they are more used to enjoying beverages at home and are more mindful of their choices. So, we are expecting more demand for healthier options such as beverages with low or no sugar and fewer calories, as well as beverages in smaller portions.

In the long run, it is always a priority to keep our drinkers engaged and excited by constantly bringing ‘new news’ and new experiences for our consumers. For example, as we enter summer, the traditional peak season for beverage brands like us, we will be launching new and exciting brand campaigns. We have recently launched a city-wide campaign for OOHA featuring a brand-new partnership with Craig & Karl, a famous illustration duo, showcasing surprising elements of the brand in Hong Kong.

Q: How would you describe your leadership style?

My leadership style can be described as authentic, open, and enthusiastic. One of the most important capabilities of a leader is to nurture others to their fullest potential, something I have enjoyed most during my career. I strive to see the unique abilities of each team member and help guide people to better themselves and improve their career trajectory. I find that by leading this way, we retain staff much longer, and productivity increases.

It’s a journey and a collaborative team effort when it comes to team engagement. That’s why everybody here in the organisation has been contributing his/her own share in building a caring culture and an exemplary workplace.

We’ve been building a great place to work and weaving associate engagement into the fabric of everything we do, day in and day out, embedding it into how we refresh the world and make a difference.

Q: How closely do you work with your HR team, and on what matters?

What’s unique in our Coca-Cola office is that apart from a CHRO or an HR strategic partner role, we have everyone involved in terms of associate engagement. We have a group we call ‘iCare Agents’, who are volunteers from our team to help organise team engagement activities for all – really by our people and for our people. By so doing, people show a high degree of passion in associate engagement.

Q: What, in your view, is the No.1 challenge to creating a workplace that can attract, engage, and retain top talent? Please share your ways to tackle it.

Similar to our drinkers, one of the challenges to retaining talent is keeping them engaged and feeling empowered. At Coca-Cola, associates are always looking for new things to do or get involved in. Our company structure and opportunities match exactly with their expectations – allowing not only cross-functional collaboration, but also working on projects at a regional, the operating unit, or the global level.

Ours is really a platform for our associates to realise their full potential. We are a great workplace where the company is always ready to go ‘above and beyond’ to support our associates’ development, growth, and success. This is what, at the end, attracts and retains top talent. 

Q: Sustainability has been a priority for Coca-Cola. Could you share some highlights, in addition to social and environmental sustainability, on strategies or plans in place to support the sustainable development of both the company and associates?

As part of our ‘World Without Waste’ commitment, we aim to help collect and recycle the equivalent of 100% of the bottles and cans we produce by 2030. We’re also working to: make 100% of our packaging recyclable by 2025; use 50% recycled material in our packaging by 2030; and have at least 25% of our beverages sold in refillable/returnable packaging by 2030.

In Hong Kong, our associates are also highly involved in initiatives that will help make a difference in people’s lives, communities, and our planet. For example, they were involved in launching Bonaqua's first individual sale label-less bottled water anywhere in the world across all channels in Hong Kong in 2022, which improves bottle recyclability and reduces the use of plastics. This follows the brand’s multi-year effort in adopting lighter bottles, and using 100% rPET for the production of its bottles.  

We have been organising beverage packaging collection and public education programmes by working together with our bottling partners, industry consortiums (like ‘Drink Without Waste’) and other industry peers (including recycling facility New Life Plastics), to help create a closed-loop system to extract the maximum value from used beverage containers.

We acknowledge that close partnerships across business, government, and civil society are fundamental to achieving our ‘World Without Waste’ goals.  

Q: What is the one thing you’ve learned or piece of advice you’ve received coming up the ranks that you try to pass on to your team?

My own career and leadership style has grown under the mentorship of a number of strong leaders, and sometimes this can be enriched by how you work together with your peers and every team member.

Being prepared to nurture those around you to achieve their full potential is probably the best piece of advice I could ever pass on to my team.

Q: Wellbeing is one of the key factors in promoting a positive workplace. How do you prioritise the wellness of your associates and yourself?

Competitive compensation packages and benefits, flexible working hours, work-from-home options for our associates as needed to take care of their families, fun and engaging team activities to celebrate key milestones, and importantly, incredible space and opportunities for professional and personal growth and development – these are among the things people enjoy as part of the exciting career experiences at Coca-Cola.

In everything we do, we strive to build and encourage a high-trust, high-performance culture that can bring the best out of the best talent in the market.

Staying healthy and fit is one of the most important things and something our company puts great emphasis on. Work-life balance is not only about the time invested in work versus personal life, but also whether or not our associates feel they are being supported in their work.

That’s why we offer flexible working hours and even locations for our people to choose from if family or personal matters come up. We also adopt an open office design where there are no private offices to encourage collaboration between teams.

For wellness, we often involve exercises in our team building activities. All in all, we want to create a positive working space where everyone feels supported, just like a family.

This article first appeared in the H1 2023 edition of Human Resources Online's Hong Kong e-magazine. View the e-magazine here, where you'll find power-packed features and interviews with leaders from Hong Kong, Singapore, the US, and more!

2023h1 emag cover

Image / Provided (Tim Warwick, Vice President of Franchise Operations, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and Mongolia, The Coca-Cola Company)

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