Hello, I’m Naomi Burgess and I’m going to tell you a little bit about the positions of a CEO and a COO and how they relate to each other, using the recent appointment by Coca Cola of James Quincey as a COO as an example.
A Chief Operating Officer, or a COO, is different from a CEO, or a Chief Executive Officer in a sense that he or she is essentially CEO’s “number two”. Quincey’s appointment is believed to be the result of his excellent work as the president of the Coca Cola’s European branch. It serves as a demonstration of the fact that a COO must be very accomplished and able to deliver excellent results, as well as be a great leader. Every CEO needs a COO, and Coca Cola’s CEO Muhtar Kent was no exception.
Quincey was appointed as an internal candidate, which is quite a common practice in appointing COOs. While it’s absolutely possible to hire someone who has shown excellent results in another company as a COO, an internal candidate would normally be preferable, because of his knowledge of the company and established relationships with the team members and possibly even clients. Also, the board has chosen Quincey because they believed that the CEO needed support, and the president of the European branch was the best candidate. His skills and experience, both on a regional and international level, matched Coca Cola’s long-term plans for the future. I believe that by choosing a candidate with such attributes, the board made the right decision, and those reasons are something I think you should consider when you choose a COO for your own company. If, however, you’re planning to take your company to a whole new level and you don’t seem to have any internal candidates with the relevant skills and experience, I would advise choosing an external candidate.
COO takes pride
Although not officially confirmed one way or another, the board is believed to have chosen Quincey for another reason – the previous COOs of the company have eventually moved up to become CEOs. It’s a very good reason for choosing an internal candidate for a COO, because a CEO has to be very familiar with the company and have a wide range of experience dealing with its internal and external affairs. As a COO, as well as a former president, Quincey would certainly fit the profile. At this point, however, it’s hard to say with certainty what’s going to happen to Coca Cola’s management in the near future.