Susanne Hall, Coca-Cola UNITED West Region Vice President, was recently recognized by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report as one of the 2021 Influential Women in Business. Hall graduated from the University of New Orleans with a degree in accounting and became a certified public accountant in 1991. After a stint at Tabasco, she joined the Coca-Cola system in 1996 and later UNITED in 2015.
Hall was among the speakers at UNITED’s Inaugural Women’s Leadership Conference held in March 2021, sharing with 400-plus virtual attendees the merits of having a mentor who refused to let her fail. Wanting to move from internal auditing to sales, Hall said her mentor’s guidance allowed her to use her financial background. Determined to not let her mentor down for the opportunity, she learned very quickly how to work hard and be a leader.
That early lesson stuck with her and is why she stays focused on servant leadership.
“I make sure the team has what they need, but I also see it as me being the kind of mentor to those that really need clarity on where they want to go,” Hall said in her interview with the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. “I had mentors that really gave me a boost and told me, ‘I got you, you’re going to do great, and I’ll be there every step of the way,’ and that’s sometimes just what people need.
“Don’t think the path you want to take is not achievable because you may not see it as traditional,” she says. “I was afforded so many opportunities to do so many different jobs over my 25 years (with Coca-Cola), and it made me grow and learn and gave me that unbelievable opportunity when I could sit here and feel so lucky that the little girl from New Iberia got a chance to experience everything I got to experience – but it’s because I took a non-traditional path.”
Even after 25 years, Hall has never lost her passion for the Coca-Cola brand.
“I still get goosebumps when I see a Coke truck going down the street,” Hall said. Part of that passion, she says, is due to Coca-Cola UNITED’s core values, which put associates first. The company’s associates-first approach was on full display in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic and seven named hurricane storms impacting the UNITED footprint.
“We’ve had to pivot like everybody else (but) it’s always thinking of my associates first,” Hall said, “and understanding how things that we deal with day-to-day affect them. One day, when I retire, I hope that’s what our team will say: that I was a servant leader, and empathetic leader.”