Coca-Cola UNITED’s Gianetta Jones Honored With Birmingham Business Journal’s C-Suite Award

Gianetta Jones

Gianetta Jones, Coca-Cola UNITED Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer, was among the honorees at the Birmingham Business Journal’s 2023 C-Suite Awards ceremony held June 15.

The awards “recognize excellence among chief-level leaders in metro Birmingham – a group that is currently playing a pivotal role in guiding companies through the challenges created by the pandemic, Great Resignation and economic changes.”

Honorees were chosen from a field of nominations based on contributions to his or her company, the company’s track record of performance, the leaders’ role in his or her industry, and impact in the community, among other factors.

Read Jones’ BBJ Q&A below.

What makes the C-suite so important to an organization?

The C-suite is vital to every organization as they help set the strategy and vision for the organization’s current and future growth. The C-suite collaborates across all functional areas of their organization to support and lead their associates to greater success.

What makes you get up and come to work every day?

My purpose in life every day is to make a positive difference in our people’s lives. I strive to be an inclusive leader who collaborates with each of our functional teams to sustain and enhance our great culture and be a great place to work.

What is the most pivotal moment or experience of your career thus far?

Joining the Coca-Cola United family to serve and cultivate our Associates First culture.

What helps you succeed in your demanding role?

Success for me is attributed to having a very cohesive and transparent team who are some of the most talented in the business. Also, taking time to rest, recharge and have fun with my supportive husband, family and friends.

Who is a mentor for you and what have you learned from him or her?

My dad is one of my best mentors and he’s given me valuable tips on how to work hard, ask for more and always plan your work and work your plan. Always take time to speak to everyone, regardless of their title, and give them your undivided attention and be a blessing to others.

What advice do you have for other C-suite leaders on how to navigate a crisis?

First, stay calm. Second, gather the team-diverse thinking will serve you and the company well. Our best lessons come in times of crisis. Be willing to pivot and always, remain focused on your associates, even when it is a hard situation. Integrity and trust must be upheld.

How have you helped your company grow?

I believe we have all grown after going through the pandemic as it has changed most leader’s viewpoints on what is truly important, our people are our number one asset.  We have great brands, but how I am helping us grow is through the inclusive benefits we provide to all of our associates for their personal and professional development as well as creating career paths so they can visualize their future. Our maturity as a more inclusive culture is another area in which we have grown coming out of the pandemic with our engagement surveys, local action teams to impact change and our focus on inclusion and belonging for all associates.

How has the pandemic and economic uncertainty changed the way you lead?

Our No. 1 strategic objective is to cultivate our Associates First culture.  This is my primary focus and part of every collective decision we make within my HR team as well as the functional teams that we support.

If you were a C-level leader for Birmingham or Jefferson County, what is the first thing you would do? Get to know the people, what’s working, what are the opportunities and what are short- and long-term solutions that we can implement to make the greatest impact. Then go execute the plans!