They all came to honor Ingrid Saunders Jones and her 31-year career at The Coca-Cola Company at a reception at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History on Wednesday evening.
Few executives receive the kind of send-off that Jones received, and that’s because Jones is unlike most executives. In her role as senior vice president of Global Community Connections and as president of the Coca-Cola Foundation, Jones extended a personal touch to people in corners all over the world.
“I can’t imagine life without Ingrid at the Coca-Cola Co.,” said Muhtar Kent, the company’s chairman and CEO, who went on to describe several different leadership eras at the Coca-Cola Co. “We are also talking about two eras here — B.I. (Before Ingrid) and A.I. (After Ingrid).”
Kent remembered when Jones and he went to Washington, D.C., in 2006. “Congressmen were running out of their rooms to say hello to Ingrid,” Kent said. “We didn’t go to their offices. They were coming out of their offices.”
Kent also was able to quantify her role at the company. “During her leadership, the Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded $460 million,” Kent said of Jones. “Think about that impact.”
Carl Ware, a former president of the Atlanta City Council, hired Jones when he was at City Hall (competing with then Mayor Maynard Jackson); and then in 1982, he persuaded Jones to join him at the Coca-Cola Co., where she impressed legendary CEO Roberto Goizueta.
“Thirty-six years ago, Maynard Jackson and I saw great potential in you, as did Roberto Goizueta,” Ware told Jones Wednesday evening. “But believe me, you have done far more good than any of us could have imagined.”