Donna Ahern talks to Agnese Filippi, country manager, Coca-Cola Ireland.
On the 15 April, Coca-Cola Company announced that Agnese Filippi has been appointed country manager of Coca-Cola Ireland.
Filippi joins the Irish business from Coca-Cola Italy and Albania where, as franchise manager, she played an important role in creating new business opportunities among different departments and regions.
During her time in Italy and Albania, she enabled the portfolio growth working on both sides of the Coca-Cola system, enhancing strategy for the hospitality sector and supporting a strong innovation pipeline in still and sparkling beverages categories.
How would you describe your new role?
As Coca-Cola’s country manager for Ireland, I am responsible for ensuring that the company continues to grow in the Irish market. At the heart of these efforts is a global mission to achieve a World Without Waste by 2030.
I am passionate about this mission and, in my role, I am focused on how we achieve this locally by reimagining the entire packaging lifecycle – from how bottles and cans are designed and made, to how they are recycled and repurposed.
In Ireland, all of the bottles and cans manufactured by Coca-Cola are 100% recyclable and 45% of our total plastic portfolio is made of recycled materials, which has eliminated the need for 3,450 tonnes of new plastic each year.
By the end of this year, we have pledged to move to recyclable cardboard packaging for all larger multi-pack cans, which will eliminate an estimated 585 tonnes of plastic annually.
Working on new innovations and design, as well as with our extensive network of partners, to make it easier and more accessible for everyone to recycle will be central to us achieving and living out our mission to create a world without waste by 2030.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It has to be the ability to lead a passionate team who have shown the capacity to rapidly respond to the changing needs of consumers and of those in the hospitality and retail sectors.
This has been evident over the past year as we all navigated the impact of COVID-19.
The ability to respond and support our customers quickly was critical and, together with our bottling partners here in Ireland, we immediately sought to ensure continuity of supply to customers, while maintaining the safety and wellbeing of our employees.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
The next five years will be very interesting for Coca-Cola. The company recently launched a major strategic transformation, focused not only on recovering from the pandemic, but on emerging from it as a more robust organisation.
This means shifting to a more networked, localised approach, with targeted regional hubs being formed across Europe. I am looking forward to being a part of this new path forward for the company and the industry.
What is your advice to people starting out in the industry?
Never stand still. Our industry is constantly changing and responding to the evolving needs of consumers. The classic business virtues - know your customer well, focus relentlessly on self-improvement, avoid complacency and unethical behaviour - will always hold true, whether you’re working from a traditional office or wearing pyjamas in your home study.
What do you think the government could do to help business in the current climate?
I know the Government has provided vital support to those working in hospitality throughout the pandemic, from payment subsidies to reopening and outdoor dining costs, but it will take some time for the sector to rebuild and recover.
I hope the Government continues to provide these support structures to ensure these businesses have an opportunity to recover in the coming weeks and months as the country returns to a new normal.
What three businesspeople do you most admire, and why?
I hugely admire Sheryl Sandberg, not just as a pioneering woman in business, but as a brilliant case of someone who combines long- term growth strategy with a social conscience. Steve Jobs would make the list, too, because he merged technology, design, and marketing with unparalleled brilliance.
Finally, I would mention Asa Griggs Candler, who purchased the Coca-Cola recipe in 1888 for less than $2,000. The payoff from that particular business decision speaks for itself!
What advertising campaign have you most enjoyed in recent months?
The most recent ‘For When It’s Time’ advert by Extra gum focused on people’s dreams about post-pandemic life. It made me smile - and isn’t that what a good campaign is all about?
If you could bring back one product that is no longer available in Ireland, what would it be?
As an Italian in Ireland, what I miss most is the Italian food emporium – Eataly. As the Ikea of Italian products, you can find everything from olive oil to risotto rice, a meat and fish counter, and fresh pasta, pizza and burrata. For me, it’s ‘la dolce vita’.
What was your favourite grocery brand when you were growing up, and why?
My favourite brand was Sprite. It was the only thing I would ask for when my parents did the weekly supermarket shop. Ferrero was another of my favourite brands. It blends the taste of chocolate with flavours of hazelnut. Others may disagree, but I think they are the best chocolatiers in the world.
Who would come to your ideal dinner party (living or dead)?
Nelson Mandela would be at the top of my list for his ability to reconcile with the past in order to create a better future for the people of South Africa. As the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, Marie Curie is a figure who devoted her life to the pursuit of knowledge.
Michelle Obama would be my third guest. As First Lady, she was a role model for women around the world and remained focus on engaging young people and improving the community she grew up in.