SCL Designs Company-Specific Executive Education Program: Coca-Cola Mexico Implements New Strategy for Bottlers

Oct 27, 2010 | Atlanta, GA

Supplying the world's most popular soft drink to its second largest consumer market is a huge job. Coca-Cola Mexico's sixty-three bottling plants supply 358 distribution centers, from which 28,500 vehicles fan out across the country along 11,000 distribution routes, traveling 237 million kilometers to 1.4 million customers at small family stores and other outlets.

It involves a highly efficient logistics and distribution model, but revisions and continuing education are necessary to keep up with changing business conditions. For help with these, Coca-Cola turned to the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistics Institute's (SCL) Executive Education Program offered by the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE).

"Our portfolio is growing, and we are trying to reach more customers by expanding our line of beverages," according to Salvador Cárdenas Escareño, Coca-Cola's commercial leadership supply chain senior manager. "That's why we need to revisit our current service models—to make sure that our portfolio is in place and perfectly executed through our different distribution channels, one store at a time."

The Executive Education Program is "a comprehensive curriculum in supply chain and logistics operation management and technology," according to Jaymie Forrest, SCL managing director. Participants receive a certificate upon completion of the intensive series. In addition to the traditional program model conducted on the Georgia Tech campus, online programs are available. Most recently, Georgia Tech has begun to offer a focused curriculum tailored to a specific company's needs and problems. These customized programs "respond to the unique needs of companies and provide them with specific and in-depth knowledge of supply chain engineering and management, "Forrest explained.

One of the first customized programs was developed for Coca-Cola Mexico and selected Central American bottlers and was held over four weeks spanning late 2008 and early 2009. Another four-week program involving Coca-Cola Mexico was held later in 2009. Aspects of these programs were assembled into a new program held this summer for Coca-Cola bottlers in Spain and Portugal. The education program for Coca-Cola Mexico teaches supply chain management for beverage delivery in conjunction with the implementation of a specific delivery framework that was developed by an outside consulting firm expressly for The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers.

"We decided to hire an institution that leads in the thinking and development of value-chain processes to defragment the consultant's development process and put it in an educational program for high-potential executives of our bottling system," C´rdenas said. "The Georgia Institute of Technology leads all this thinking on what we were looking for in the demand-driven value-chain execution."

The bilingual, 120-hour program is based in the concepts of demand-driven supply networks as a way to innovate service delivery models. "We cover the fundamentals of demand sensing, demand shaping, and demand response while using the Blue Ocean Strategy framework to find new ways to compete in the market via differentiated service delivery models," said Maria Rey, SCL senior lecturer. "The program has different tracks where students understand the strategic imperative to innovate their service delivery strategies, a competencies track to acquire new knowledge and tools to lead the process, and an applied knowledge track for their experimental projects."

The projects, where students solve a business problem that's specific to their company, is a key part of the program, which is structured around four on-site residences that enable participants to build their innovation experiments progressively. Classes and projects are held typically at a local university or executive education facility. The faculty is drawn from Georgia Tech and local universities. Guest speakers provide perspectives on different industries and geographies on topics such as segmentation, innovation, and project management. "It's a two-way learning process, for program attendees and for the faculty involved," Rey noted. Most important from Coca-Cola Mexico's point of view, the program has a significant bottom-line payoff.

 "We trained and certified fifty-five high-potential executives around the new delivery system," C´rdenas said, "and we have the opportunity to experiment with twenty new service models touching more than 10,000 customers.

"It helped us to change our bottlers' mindset to what  we're looking for: execute the picture of success one perfect store at a time. Now the RTM [route-to-market] is part of the processes within their organizations," he added.

Designing and delivering customized education programs may be one of the most important capabilities of universities now and in the future, said Rey. "Customized executive education sits at the crossroads of consulting and education.

Program designers must understand the needs of the client company and translate a solution for those needs in ways of teaching content and real-life projects that corporate attendees can execute. At the Supply Chain & Logistics Institute, we believe we have a good competency in designing customized executive education programs, and we look forward to creating value for more firms."

Contact custom programs for more information.

Gary Goettling authored this article, which originally appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of Industrial and Systems Engineering: The Alumni Magazine for the Stewart School of ISyE at Georgia Tech

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Barbara Christopher
Industrial and Systems Engineering
404.385.3102