How Beverage Giant Coca-Cola builds a Loyal, Dedicated Team: A HR Perspective

Categories: Workplace

Like many others from traditional families, Gaurav Sharma had aspirations of being a doctor during his childhood. Sharma did not end up pursuing medicine, but his core motivations for wanting to be a doctor never waned – he wanted to work with people. In that spirit, Sharma entered the corporate scene and delved headfirst into Human Resource (HR). 

The reason he chose HR was simple – “HR was a calling”. At the time of his first job search, India was opening up its economy and there was an influx of people and big organisations. With this in mind, HR was the natural choice.

As the HR Director of Coca-Cola, Sharma is now living out his ideals of working with people, and is responsible for the working experience of thousands of employees across Southeast Asia.

Sharma is committed to the Coca-Cola mission of developing internal talent. Coca-Cola’s dedication to this mission is manifested through their policy of how at least 50% of vacancies are to be filled with internal talent. 

As such, they invest immense amounts of time and money to the implementation of developmental road maps. These developmental opportunities are available to all employees, ensuring equal opportunities for them to grow in their career. 

In fact, internal talent development has been the key to ensuring a loyal, dedicated, and committed team within the organisation. By extension, this team is a cornerstone of the company’s growth.

Today, 68% of Coca-Cola’s vacancies for positions of executives and above, are filled internally – a testament to Sharma’s steady leadership. 

His secret sauce? 6Ss: selfless, sensitive, sensible, solutions, speed, and smart.

The former three qualities are deemed essential by Sharma for HR professionals to productively handle the wide array of information they have access to. It ensure that HR personnel always have the people’s best interest in mind, and are not just blindly following protocol. 

Meanwhile, the latter three qualities are relevant to outcome. Simply put, Sharma asserts that all HR professionals have to be agile and adaptable in the face of different circumstances, readily providing smart solutions rather than simply going by the rulebook.

Ultimately, Sharma hopes to see more HR professionals “move out of static governance”, and into a “development and empowering function”. 

As HR director, Sharma’s heart is truly for the people; his finds that the “biggest satisfaction as a HR professional is to see people around you grow.” 


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