Muhammed Iftikhar

Marketing Operations Manager

Pakistan and Afghanistan Region

Muhammed is responsible for the strategy and overall management of Islamabad and Faisalabad Franchises. He also manages the Modern Trade Function and leads Business Planning and Reporting for the region from a top-line volume standpoint.

I joined The Coca-Cola Company…in 2011. I was fresh out of university and I had just graduated from the University of Essex in London where I was a double major in Finance and Accounting. I joined the company as a Business Analyst and then worked in Planning and Strategy for a couple of years. Next, I moved into Franchise Operations and started handling the operations in Faisalabad. I had a great experience working there and we managed to turn the business around completely going from a share of 7% at the start of 2014 to being the market leaders at the end of 2015.

I chose to join Coca-Colafor many reasons. I was always in love with the drink. I grew up in a household where everyone loved consuming Coca-Cola. While playing tennis, I used it as an important source of energy during my matches. When I got back, I wanted to work for a company which I could identify with as being a true reflection of my own personality and individual values. I came across the amazing work The Coca-Cola Company had done for the victims of the floods that had ravaged parts of the country the year before. I read that it was the first company in the world to announce a relief package for the victims – even before the Government of Pakistan – and I felt this approach was really vibrant and fresh. The company had an aura of philanthropy along with business acumen. I decided to apply and I was lucky enough to get in.

Before Coca-ColaI worked in London at BNP Paribas as an investment banker on a summer internship before setting off for a period of travelling through the Levant & the Far East, following which I chose to return back to Pakistan due to personal reasons.

My interests and hobbies…include playing sports, learning languages, reading books on history, exploring new cultures, travelling and trying new food. I love playing sports and I’ve always had a passion for playing tennis. I pursued the sport at the international Under-18 level, where I was ranked within the top 200 players of the world. Prior to pursuing higher education, I had dreams of becoming a professional tennis player – maybe in another life now. I feel that the best way to truly learn about an alien culture is to learn their language and hence I have always tried learning new languages. This hobby led me to learn amongst others languages as diverse as Turkish, Spanish & German while I was studying in London.

My typical workday…starts with checking my emails as soon as I wake up. I check the daily sales reports in which I monitor the sales position of the company. Depending on the numbers, I start planning out the key things I need to do on that specific day. I have a long term plan and a mid to short term plan of the things that I need to do. On a daily basis, a lot of what I need to do depends on how the business is doing at that given point in time so that depends on what I see in the daily sales report. That’s how the magic starts. Once I have the numbers, I start running simulations on how the business will fare based on the given trends. My job is to ensure that the business delivers on all the expected key business indicators which range from the top-line volume delivery to the bottom-line profit delivery. Every decision we take and every piece of information we use to plan out our next move are all geared to ensure we deliver on our key business indicators. A lot of my time also involves managing key relationships with internal & external stakeholders ranging from our customers & franchise bottlers to liaising with internal functions like Technical & Marketing. I’ll leave the rest up to you guys to see how my daily routine would be based on what I’ve told you. Whenever I do get some time, I go online to the Coca-Cola University portal and I start doing online training courses as I believe life is a learning curve. It’s better to keep on improving our skillsets and future proofing ourselves with regards to the changing landscape of the business.

My advice to young professionals…consists of four main points. Firstly, never doubt yourself. As long as you work hard and as long as you believe you have the capability, you will get there. Secondly, my motto throughout life has always been, “Perseverance commands success.” Talent is only 20% of the total package; sheer determination and hard work is what makes up the remaining 80%. While “Knowledge is Power”, it can be of no use if you don’t utilize it properly. I have always believed that practice makes perfect – the more you practice, the better you get. Thirdly, be an ardent student of history & try learning from the affairs of yester-year, for those experiences will always be of use to you in the future. Lastly, always stay humble. Take care of others around you and be kind to people. Do not think too much of yourself and don’t let success get to your head. Whenever you’re feeling down, think of all the good that has been bestowed upon you. Always be kind to your parents, listen to them and cherish whatever time you have with them on this Earth. Try to be a good son, daughter, spouse, colleague parent and human being. Ill share a key code of mine that I try to follow everyday & I refer to it as, “ The 3 Ws”; always be the best at Whatever you do no matter Wherever you are & Whoever you are with.