“Coca-Cola seemed incredibly far away”
Initially he didn’t dare to apply and today George Droumev boasts an international professional career of 20 years with
“My history with
Radical changes and building
I come from Bulgaria. When I joined Coke, Eastern Europe was undergoing radical changes; it was a tough and interesting time. All of a sudden we came into contact with other cultures.
When I graduated from the Technical University in 1990 the most difficult period started in Bulgaria. I was a mechanical engineer and hardly able to support my family. Then I got a job in Nigeria and I decided to go to Africa for a year to work for a construction company; I led the installation of the air conditioning equipment in the hotel we were building. Apart from learning everything about air conditioning, I also learned English and worked with people from many different countries. It was my first international experience.
When the project ended, I came back and was without a job. In 1992
Pioneer spirit in bottles
At the beginning I worked as a Field Engineer. When my colleague in Quality Assurance resigned, her functions were transferred to me on top. I implemented quality standards in bottling plants. During four years I travelled to bottlers in my home country and inspected the technical & quality systems. Then we also started launching new products, such as Fanta and Sprite. I started to take over responsibility for an increasing number of countries. First Serbia and Macedonia were added, then Malta and Albania. During that time I developed myself above all geographically and learned to work with different cultures & nationalities.
In 1998 I went to Atlanta for a year and attended a program for associates who were to take over leadership functions in the technical field. I discovered a completely new perspective. Up to that time I had done some practical technical work. In the USA I was introduced to the “corporate way of thinking”. When I returned I took over the Adriatic, Balkan and East Mediterranean Region, which included Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia, Israel, Palestine, Serbia and Montenegro. Later I 'lost' Israel & Palestine, but added Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and Moldova. Although these were rather small countries, we had an incredible growth at that time.
In 2009 I joined Europe Group and led the Supply Chain Operations for our juice business. In 2012 I changed over to Berlin as Technical Director for
Learning for life
All the transfers within Coke have always been a great stroke of luck for me. Changes always helped me evolve, personally, professionally and culturally. I became familiar with many different ways of thinking and working. Today I can adapt my language to the different countries and people. I can talk to government officials, public authorities, ordinary people. When I come to a new place, I try to find out everything about the customs and taboos in the country. All of that is very important for good cooperation.
If I could make a wish, I would simply want to continue like that, with all the changes and curious situations. I experienced the tough reality in Israel and Palestine, waking up by helicopter raids, I often had to go to the West Bank, was guarded by security forces in Albania, I was in Serbia, when one never knew who would attack next. Sometimes I got into real war or post-war situations. But somebody had to do it, the Company had to grow. So I want to go on. I want to continue to develop myself, solve problems, work with people of different origins. Changes mean evolution. Routine leads to paralysis.
Open, professional, passionate
If I were to advise young professionals, I would focus on three topics. Firstly: Be open, take up ideas, listen to people and gather experience. Secondly: be professional. Do everything as best you can. Mediocrity is not acceptable. Thirdly: Be passionate. You must be happy of what you are doing; otherwise you will not be successful.
It is also important that the job suits your family. Work-life balance has always been important for me. My family always benefited from everything Coke did for me. There were tough years, during which I was hardly at home. At the same time my children have seen and learned a lot as a result of my international deployment. Today they are cosmopolitan in a natural way. Moreover, the positive mood of the company is transmitted to the family. Even after strenuous working days I try to come home in a good mood.”