Beatriz Perez | Influence 100

Beatriz Perez

SVP, Chief Communications, Public Affairs, Sustainability & Marketing Assets Officer 



Since taking charge of Coca Cola's communications function in 2017, Bea Perez has ushered in a more engaging era for the soft drinks giant's public relations efforts, at a time when it is under scrutiny like never before. Having served as chief sustainability officer since 2011, Perez understands the challenges better than most, but remains tested by Coca-Cola's continued ability to make headlines when comments are taken out of context.

Perez’s career with Coca-Cola spans more than two decades, and since May 2017 has included the iconic company’s communications responsibilities. Perez leads an integrated team across public affairs and communications, sustainability and partnerships. In this role, she aligns a diverse portfolio of work against critical business objectives to support brands, communities, consumers and partners worldwide.

She continues to oversee the company’s sports and entertainment assets including partnerships with the Olympics, Special Olympics and FIFA, as well as leading strategic and operational efforts for the company’s retail, licensing and attractions assets. Reducing the company’s environmental impact has risen to the forefront under Perez’s watch, with the goal of recycling the equivalent of every bottle or can sold worldwide by 2030.

Perez served as the company’s first chief sustainability officer from 2011, developing and leading progress against global sustainability commitments, with a focus on water stewardship and women’s economic empowerment. Before this, she was CMO for Coca-Cola North America, where she built brands by developing some of its most historic relationships, including with American Idol and NASCAR.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR’s direct impact on business performance?
I feel fortunate to see the direct impact to the business across many areas. Communications impacts employee engagement, how brands and companies are perceived, and how results are brought to life. Recently, I’ve been engaging more with investors on ESG as well. These conversations are essential as investors are increasingly factoring ESG into their decision-making.

What are the communications industry’s biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
For the year ahead – we will have to resist going back to our older ways of doing things. It is clear that communications must be agile enough to adapt to what is needed at the time we are in. Communities around the world are in different phases in terms of recovery. We have to be cognizant and respectful of the status of any given country when developing global messaging. It’s also an opportunity to sharpen that skill of always crafting inclusive communications.

What have you most admired about this industry over the past year?
Communicators were instrumental in helping companies bring to life their “purpose” and connect with employees. Overall, many have had to adapt. We moved to operate with fully virtual communications. In some ways, it made idea-sharing easier since it didn’t always require an in-person meeting. We learned many new ways of working and found more effective and efficient ways to express thoughts and drive transparency. At Coca-Cola, we are now more networked than ever – we are prioritizing how to maintain the focus on internal communications leveraging innovative approaches and bringing in more perspectives to each project.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
My team has implemented flexible Fridays. We asked for everyone to not schedule meetings and log off a little earlier than usual to allow time to focus on our wellbeing, families, and other priorities outside of work. In addition, we don’t put the pressure to always use video for meetings – our eyes need some relief. Vacation, vacation, vacation is key! Sharing stories of our vacations has encouraged others to know it is ok to take this time even if we may not have anywhere to travel to these days.

Sum up 2021 in one word.