Born: September 30, 1943
Executive vice president, Public Affairs and
Administration, Coca-Cola Company
Carl Ware has always been a hard worker ever since he was a child. The hard work took him out of the cotton fields, through college, and into the executive world of Coca-Cola. Ware scaled the corporate ladder at Coke, going from an urban and governmental affairs specialist in 1974 to executive vice president in charge of public affairs, communications, and government relations.
Carl H. Ware was born in Newnan, Georgia, on September 30, 1943, to U. B. and Lois Wimberly Ware. His parents were sharecroppers tending a farm on white-owned land in the segregated South. As one of twelve children, Ware was expected to help the family bring in the harvest, which interrupted his schooling on occasion. When he was able to attend school, he had to walk several miles to and from school. His determination to receive an education helped him overcome the hardships of his childhood.
"I learned that if I wanted to work somewhere other than a cotton field I needed an education. I also learned that, to get my education, I was going to have to work harder than the kids whose families had more money."
Ware's hard work paid off. He attended Clark College (Clark Atlanta University) in Atlanta, graduating in 1965 with a bachelor's degree. He then studied at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from 1965 to 1966 before earning his master's degree in public administration from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh in 1968. He also graduated from the Harvard Business International Senior Management Program in 1991.
After graduation, Ware began his career, not in the business world, but in the arena of city government as director of housing for the Urban League of Pittsburgh. In 1970, he moved to Atlanta and assumed the dual positions of director of Family and Community Services and deputy director of Urban Redevelopment with the Atlanta Housing Authority. Three years later he made the leap into city politics, winning an election to the Atlanta city council. He served as president of the council from 1976 to 1979.
Ware joined Coca-Cola in 1974 while still serving as a councilman. His long career with the soft drink giant began with him serving as an urban and governmental affairs specialist. Five years later Ware became the Coca-Cola USA special markets vice president, responsible for marketing Coke products to minority groups. In this role, Ware had his first experience as a high-profile diplomat for the company. In 1981, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson (1941-) threatened to mobilize a black boycott of the company, claiming Coke had a poor minority hiring record. Ware set up a $50 million program at Coca-Cola to encourage black vendors, and Jackson backed down.
Ware's careful handling of the potential public relations disaster was certainly a contributing factor in his promotion to urban affairs vice president in 1982. Coke capitalized on Ware's diplomatic skills by putting him in charge of the company's domestic and international external affairs and philanthropic programs. Ware's next promotion was to senior vice president in 1986, and by 1991 he had become the deputy vice president of Northeast Europe and Africa. In 1993, Ware became head of the company's Africa group.
The results of Ware's efforts in Africa were dramatic. He almost single-handedly made Coke a household name on the continent. Working from Atlanta, he organized a U.S. tour for Nelson Mandela (1918-) to raise funds for his successful campaign to become president of South Africa. Coke now sells about four hundred million cases a year in that country, accounting for almost half of all sales in Africa. He also urged Coca-Cola to support relief efforts when drought struck Zimbabwe and when refugees needed help in Rwanda.
In 1999, Ware announced he was resigning from Coca-Cola. He took back his resignation after he was promoted to executive vice president, Public Affairs and Administration in 2000. In his new role, Ware did not back down from tackling big problems and his global vision put him in touch with some of the most powerful leaders in the world. He received invitations to the White House from both Bill Clinton (1946-) and George W.Bush (1946-) during their administrations. He served on a panel in London with British Prime Minister Tony Blair (1953-), and committed Coke to an international AIDS effort in a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (1938-) in 2001.
Ware, one of the most influential African American business leaders in the United States, also took the company mandate "Think locally, act locally" to heart. He maintained ties to his Atlanta community as chair of Clark Atlanta University's board of trustees, and through his efforts on behalf of the Metropolitan Atlanta United Way.
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