Coca Cola CEO Speaks to Georgia CPAs
M. Douglas Ivester, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Co., recently fielded questions on his experiences as a CPA in industry and on the profession at a forum held by the Georgia Society of CPAs.
Olivia F. Kirtley, chairwoman of the AICPA board of directors, joined Ivester in answering questions from the audience of CPAs at the session.
Both Kirtley and Ivester began their careers in public accounting at Ernst & Young (then Ernst & Whinney) in Atlanta.
During the forum Ivester told the group that his company valued absolute integrity from their public accounting firm. When you operate around the world the way we do, you really cant afford to ever question the integrity of a financial system, he said. The relationship between Coca-Cola and Ernst & Young dates back to the 1920s.
In Ivesters opinion, the CPA designation creates credibility. CPAs in industry, he added, need to reinforce that initial impression with quality work. Without it, he said, the credibility will diminish.
Discussing the future of the profession and the CPA Vision Project, Ivester said that he viewed the CPA designation in the same way he thought of Coca-Colaas a brand.
The promise of a brand is the promise of integrity, quality and value, he said. Like any other brand, the CPA designation should be constantly polished, enhanced and protected.
I think the Vision Project adds to that CPA brand, Ivester said. And, because brands change position in the market, CPAs should be working constantly to improve their position. He urged CPAs to develop areas of specialization to meet the challenges facing the profession in the future.