Roberto Goizueta

From Academic Kids

Roberto Crispulo Goizueta (July 9, 1932 - October 18, 1997) was Chairman, Board of Directors, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Coca-Cola Company from August 1980, until his death October 1997.

Under the direction of Goizueta, investors saw The Coca-Cola Company become a top US corporation. He is attributed to invigorating The Company a with global vision. In the process, he created more wealth for shareholders than any CEO in history.

Goizueta was a respected civic servant. A Cuban immigrant and owing to those humble roots, his efforts focused on funding education and enhancing the opportunities of in-need students.



Roberto Goizueta was born into a prominent family in Havana, Cuba, where his grandfather owned a Cuban sugar refinery. He was the only son of Crispulo and Aida Goizueta.

In Havana, Goizueta attended a Jesuit secondary school and later studied for a year in the United States at the Cheshire Academy, a preparatory school in Connecticut. At Cheshire, Goizueta bettered his English skills by watching American movies.

He began studies at Yale University in 1948, earning a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering. In 1953, he returned to Cuba to work in his families business.

Fidel Castro rose to power in Cuba, reforming Cuba into a communist state. While on vacation in Miami, Goizueta and his family decided to defect to the United States. They came with $40 and 100 shares of Coca-Cola stock.

Career at The Coca-Cola Company

A year after returning to Cuba to work in his families business, replying to an anonymous want ad in his local newspaper, Goizueta found himself working for the Coca-Cola bottler in Cuba. A short time later he was promoted to Chief Technical Director of five Cuban bottling plants.

After defecting to the United States, Goizueta worked for The Coca-Cola Company in Miami. He was re-assigned to Nassau, Bahamas as a Chemist for the Caribbean region.

In 1964 he was moved to the headquarters of The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, Georgia. At the age of 35, he became Vice President of Technical Research and Development. He remains the youngest person to hold this position at The Company. In 1975, he was promoted to lead the Legal and External Affairs department.

Robert Goizueta received a stunning appointment in 1979, to become President of The Coca-Cola Company after then officer J. Lucian Smith resigned. In March 1981, he assumed the chairmanship after Chairman Paul Austin retired.

Goizueta remained at the helm of The Coca-Cola Company for sixteen years until the time of his death, due to complications from lung cancer, in 1997.

During his tenure, the Coca-Cola brand became the most well-known trademark in the world. He introduced the Coke slogan, "Coke is it!". He launched the Diet Coke brand, as well as the ill-fated New Coke.

He also sat on the Board of Directors for various companies, including, SunTrust Banks, Inc., The Ford Motor Company, and The Eastman Kodak Company.


Robert Goizueta was a trustee, and many times sat on the board of many educational charitable institutions.

In 1992, he established The Goizueta Foundation, with a goal to support educational and charity institutions. The foundation continues to establish grants and provides college scholarships to Hispanic and Latin American Education majors, living in the United States.


"Once you lose everything, what's the worst that's going to happen to you? You develop a self-assurance."

"We're going to take risks. What has always been will not necessarily always be forever."


  • Became the first CEO to gain billionaire status from a company to which he did not found.
  • If you had invested $1000 in Coca-Cola stocks when Goizueta became CEO, today, that investment would be worth over $71,000.

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