We remember Roberto Goizueta (1931 — 1997)

We remember Roberto C. Goizueta, the former CEO of Coca-Cola, who was born in Havana, Cuba on this day in 1931. He died in 1997.

His story is remarkable:

Roberto Crispulo Goizueta was born in Havana, Cuba, on November 18, 1931, into a wealthy family with ties to the country’s sugar industry. He attended a Jesuit school in Havana and spent a year at a preparatory school in Connecticut before enrolling in 1949 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1953 he graduated from Yale with a degree in chemical engineering. The same year, he married Olguita Casteleiro in one of Cuba’s most high-profile weddings, and the couple eventually had three children. 

After working for his father for a year, Goizueta answered a classified advertisement in a Havana newspaper for a company seeking a bilingual chemical engineer. The company was Coca-Cola, and after just a few years, he was appointed the chief engineer for the company’s five Cuban bottling plants. But after Fidel Castro seized power from Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, Goizueta made plans to defect to the United States. 

Goizueta and his family left Cuba in 1960 with little more than $200 and 100 shares of Coca-Cola stock. They settled in Miami, Florida, where Goizueta continued to work with Coke’s Latin American concerns, while also serving as a chemist for the company’s Caribbean interests. He became a U.S. citizen in 1969.

To make a long story short, he became the CEO in the 1981 and held that position until his death in 1997.

We recorded this podcast with Fernando Hernandez, author, about Roberto’s life.

P.S. Check out my blog for posts, podcasts and videos.

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