Column: Helene Gayle, Muhtar Kent to enter GSU’s Business Hall of Fame

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on August 8, 2014

Two high-profile Atlanta leaders will be inducted into the Business Hall of Fame of Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business on Sept. 18.

Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE, the international poverty-fighting organization, and Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Co., will bring the number inductees to the Robinson College Business Hall of Fame to 81.

Helene Gayle

Helene Gayle

The Business Hall of Fame, established in 1985, is the highest recognition bestowed by the Robinson College. The inductees are recognized for their outstanding accomplishments in business, positive social impact through contributions beyond the realm of business and/or serving as a role model for business students at GSU and elsewhere.

The evening event will take place at the St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead.

Gayle became CARE’s president and CEO in 2006. She currently serves on several public company and nonprofit boards, including The Coca-Cola Co., Colgate-Palmolive Co., the Rockefeller Foundation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the New America Foundation and the ONE Campaign.

Gayle serves on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships and the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board, and she is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Public Health Association, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics. She has been named by Forbes as one of the world’s 100 most powerful women.

Kent has been chairman of Coca-Cola since April 2009 and CEO since July 2008. Previously he had served as the company’s president and chief operating officer.

Muhtar Kent

Muhtar Kent

Kent joined Coca-Cola in Atlanta in 1978. Active in the global business community, he is chairman of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum, co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s CEO Council on Health and Innovation, a Fellow of the Foreign Policy Association, a member of the Business Roundtable, immediate past co-chair of the Consumer Goods Forum, a past chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council and chairman emeritus of the U.S. ASEAN Business Council.

He is a member of the Eminent Persons Group for ASEAN, appointed by President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He serves on the boards of 3M, Special Olympics International, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Catalyst and Emory University.

US Russia Business Council

When it comes to trying to influence a change in Russian policy toward the Ukraine, sanctions are not necessarily the most effective tool, according to Daniel Russell, president and CEO of the U.S. Russia Business Council.

Russell was the keynote speaker at the Rotary Club of Atlanta Aug. 4, when he said that sanctions often end up hurting U.S. and European business interests and rarely change the behavior of a political leader like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I have qualms about sanctions,” Russell said, explaining that he had worked on the U.S. policy toward Cuba and saw the impact that sanctions had had on U.S. companies. “Our government needs to be very careful about how we use these tools.”

Instead, the United States should take a much more active diplomatic role rather than “sitting back and waiting to see what Putin will do.”

Russell said Georgia has an economic stake in what happens in Russia, mentioning three companies that have had successful business ties with the former Soviet nation — AGCO, Coca-Cola and Global Payments.

In fact, Coca-Cola executive Clyde Tuggle, who serves on his board, introduced him at Rotary – saying “timing is everything.” The former CEO of Coca-Cola, Neville Isdell, is chairman emeritus of the U.S. Russia Business Council.

Russell shared some other insights.

The United States needs to be careful that it doesn’t push Russia toward China. The United States should take a strategic long-term view when dealing with Russia.

Russell also said Putin’s popularity in Russia (nearing 80 percent) is real, and it is fueled by a “patriotic fervor” that exists throughout the country. “He’s really popular, and that makes it harder to deal with him,” Russell said.

Preferred Apartment Communities

John Williams

John Williams

A bit of déjà vu all over again is underway at Preferred Apartment Communities, a company led by Chairman and CEO John A. Williams.

The apartment developer announced on Aug. 4 that it has entered into an operating partnership that plans to acquire nine grocery-anchored (Publix and Kroger) retail shopping centers in Southern cities, including Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Atlanta, Columbus, Charleston, Nashville and Houston.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to add these assets to our class A multifamily portfolio as part of our overall strategy to have a limited portion of the company’s assets allocated to non-multifamily assets,” Williams said in a statement. “We believe this strategy will position the company to significantly enhance stockholder value.”

Williams said the company has formed a wholly owned subsidiary, New Market Properties LLC, which will be led by Joel Murphy, who will serve as the retail company’s president and CEO.

If the New Market name sounds familiar, Daniel DuPree founded New Market Development Co. in 1984, developing nearly 6 million square feet of retail space before selling the company to Cousins Properties in 1992. Today, DuPree is vice chairman and chief investment officer of Preferred Apartment Communities. Murphy and DuPree worked together at Cousins.

The company’s plan is to spin off New Market Properties into an independent publicly traded REIT as soon as the company believes it has reach a certain scale, but Preferred Apartment Communities expects to retain an ownership interest in the retail company following the spin-off.

New Heart Association chair

Chris Miller

Chris Miller

Christopher Miller, Southern Co.’s vice president of employee relations and associate general counsel, will serve as chair of the American Heart Association’s Greater Southeast affiliate’s board for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Miller has served on the GSA board since 2010. He also served as a member of the Heart Association’s Metro Atlanta Advisory board since 2005. He received the organization’s Heart & Soul Award in 2006.

“I am honored to continue to serve as a GSA board member and look forward to helping the American Heart Association lead the fight to saves lives from cardiovascular diseases and stroke,” Miller said in a statement. “I am also proud to represent Southern Co.’s and our affiliates’ ongoing commitment to the health and wellness of our employees and the communities we serve throughout the Southeast.”

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