By Jessica Hirsch
On Wednesday, 24 February, Darden welcomed Sunil Ghatnekar (MBA ’92) to discuss his career journey as part of the Leadership Speaker Series. In the series, significant leaders from across the globe share their stories, expertise and advice with Darden students, faculty and staff.
Since graduating from Darden, Ghatnekar has worked for The Coca-Cola Company in various positions over the past 23 years. Currently, he serves as the Chief Financial Officer of Bottling Investments Group (BIG), one of the six main operating groups of The Coca-Cola Company. His first role post-graduation involved performing international corporate audits.
Ghatnekar provided a great deal of reflection on his own experiences. Originally from New Delhi, India, Ghatnekar always envisioned a career that would extend beyond his home country. Through his work with The Coca-Cola Company, Ghatnekar enjoyed the opportunity to work across the world in diverse countries such as Nepal, Turkey, Bangladesh, and Singapore.
“I got a free intro into how culture and business are conducted by The Coca-Cola Company across the globe,” Ghatnekar said. “In two years, I’d traveled more globally than I ever imagined.”
Some of Ghatnekar’s main take-aways for students include:
- The importance of trying new things or “taking the plunge” even when you are unfamiliar with the situation.
- The benefit of surrounding yourself with a good network, including those who will allow you to fail.
- The necessity of making human connections and having empathy in business—particularly in cross-cultural interactions.
- That learning is a life-long quest regardless of how much you know.
In particular, Ghatnekar emphasized the fluidity of life’s path and how he never expected his career would develop this way.
“One thing Darden prepares you for is uncertainty,” Ghatnekar said. “Things don’t just land in your lap. Plunge and pursue relentlessly, and be surrounded by people who allow you to fail. I would any day hire someone with the right attitude and heavy intent—that’s half the battle.”
Watch Sunil Ghatnekar (MBA ’92) complete Leadership Speaker Series talk.