Cummings Retires from Coca-Cola

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The Coca-Cola Company has announced the retirement of its long time executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Alexander B. Cummings Jr.

The company made the announcement on December 7 in Atlanta, Georgia, the headquarters of the largest beverage company in the world.

According to the company’s official website, the Liberian born chief executive’s retirement takes effect on March 31, 2016.

Mr. Cummings joined The Coca-Cola Company in July, 1997 as a deputy regional manager for Nigeria.

He quickly rose to become president of Coca-Cola’s Africa Group in 2001, and oversaw 56 countries until July, 2008 when he was named as the chief administrative officer.

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Coca-Cola Company, Muhtar Kent, praised Mr. Cummings for his distinguished service to the company.

“We thank Alex for his tireless service to growing and advancing our business in key markets around the world,” said Mr. Kent.

“Alex’s legacy,” he said, “will be as a leader who focused on growth and have made us more efficient and effective. He also has a passion for our people and a vision for building sustainable communities as part of our local business. We wish him well on his retirement.”

Mr. Cummings was described as an international business executive and philanthropist. According to him, as Liberia finds its bearing toward private sector development, human development and governance, it should focus on re-developing its middle class.

“That is the ultimate test. A healthy, vibrant and hopeful middle class is the pulse of a successful society… a sign that it has broken free from its past. When there is a strong middle class … good things happen. The economy diversifies. Instability diminishes. Lives improve. Markets emerge. And government is called to account by the expectations of an empowered people,” he said.

When he delivered the keynote address on Saturday, December 5, at the annual gala of the Checago Bright Foundation in Clarksville, Maryland, Cummings expressed the belief that Liberia can aspire to regain its middle class like the rest of the world, adding: “It is going to take a break with history”

At the gala, which was attended by Liberians and friends of Liberia to support and raise funds for the Checago Bright Foundation which undertakes water, sanitation and health projects in Liberia, Cummings called for Liberians to dedicate part of their lives, comforts and remittances to the rebuilding of the country.

Turning to the issue of corruption, Cummings emphasized that “it is absolutely imperative that corruption is driven out of government, and driven out of the lives of Liberians.” Citing that there has been some improvement in the national life of the country, he however, strongly noted that “the scourge of corruption still infects the highest level of commerce and the smallest transaction daily in the public and private lives of our people.”

Amidst repeated applauses, Cummings named clarity, cooperation and conviction as three positive forces that can bring Liberia together.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cummings said that if Liberians desire to predict the future of their country, they must work in creating that future. He told Liberians at a town hall style meeting in Maryland that helping to rebuild Liberia was their patriotic and moral duty.

He said he is consulting Liberians on how, together, solutions can be developed for the many issues Liberia is grappling with. He was questioned for about 90 minutes by Liberians on a wide range of topics including national security, health, agriculture and education.

He spoke of the formation of his Cummings Africa Foundation, which is positively impacting the lives of people in Liberia. He says he is committed to returning to Liberia to continue helping with the rebuilding process of “Mama Liberia.”

The program was organized by the local Team Cummings for Liberia (TCL), a local grass-root organization which is courting Alex Cummings to consider taking on a future leadership role in Liberia.

It can be recalled that in late October, Cummings told the Daily Observer that Liberians, both at home and in the Diaspora, have petitioned him to run for the office of President of Liberia come 2017, but on each occasion put the petition on hold.

“I have received the petitions, but insisted that as vice head of a premier multilateral corporation, I could not seek political office now,” he repeated. He did not, however, rule out the possibility that he may in the near future give consideration to those petitions.

However, with the announcement of his retirement, the public has the cause to believe he will now accept the petitions to contest the 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections.