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Amatil MD pays tribute to Pod at annual general meeting

Amatil MD pays tribute to Pod at annual general meeting

Coca-Cola Amatil Group Managing Director Alison Watkins has paid tribute to the late Peter McLoughlin, formerly Managing Director of Australian Beverages, at Coca Cola Amatil's annual general meeting.

Watkins opened her address to shareholders with these heartfelt words: "Peter McLoughlin (Pod) stepped down in January 2018 to take an extended period of sick leave. Sadly, Pod passed away later in the year.

"I take this opportunity to again recognise his huge contribution to our business and to the beverages industry over the years, and to acknowledge our tremendous affection and respect for him as a member of our team. Pod distinguished himself as a straightforward and open leader who helped shape Australian Beverages’ growth plans. His unique combination of drive, care and good humour are greatly missed."

Watkins has previously shared on LinkedIn the eulogy she gave for Pod at his service on Friday, October 12, 2018.

"Pod has given me the honour today of reflecting on the ‘work Pod’. As we all know, the work Pod was very much the same person as the ‘home Pod’. Pod really did bring his whole self to work. In fact, Pod’s unofficial work title at Amatil was Chief Hugging Officer or C.H.O. for short. Those hugs were both physical and virtual and we miss them. There’s just no one else who has the skills and qualifications for that particular role.

"Pod and I worked together closely for only the last two years yet I, like everyone who’s worked with Pod, instantly felt a strong connection. Pod was someone you know right away you can trust. He’s someone who speaks common-sense. He listened, he understood. He gave so much of himself - he had no airs and graces. Fashion was not a particular priority. He’s the only person who called me “boss”. While not something I would normally be comfortable with, coming from Pod it actually made me feel quite good.

"It was these qualities that resulted in an extraordinary Pod followership. I saw this first-hand at Coca-Cola Amatil. I also saw how this extended across his whole career. His positive and lasting impact on everyone who had the privilege of working with him is nothing short of extraordinary.

"Pod has made a difference to many people during his career which spanned South Africa, Latin America and Australia. While Pod’s career took him a long way from his early days as an engineer, he still drew enormously from what he learnt during that time. One of his learnings he shared with us was:

It can take a while to establish exactly what you want to do and when I think of the skills and learning from Engineering, you realise we must all continuously focus on ‘filling the tool box.’ Continuously develop skills – never stop learning – be ‘restless’ and unsatisfied with status quo – push the boundaries of your own knowledge.

"It was a case of ‘do as I do’ with Pod ‘not do as I say’ and Pod was always pushing the boundaries when it came to his own knowledge. He studied engineering, commerce and then completed an MBA where he achieved the top result. Initially he worked in the oil industry in engineering before being promoted to managerial roles in site management, sales and production.

"He then joined SAB Miller (SABM) in a sales role. SABM is one of the world’s largest brewers. Pod reckoned beer was a lot more fun to sell than oil and one of his favourite sayings was that "Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy". 

"Pod spent over 20 years with SABM, always learning and growing with progressively more senior roles encompassing Sales, IT, Supply Chain and Marketing and including two years based in Columbia. 

"His Australian story started in 2008 when he signed on as CEO of Pacific Beverages, a role he held for around three years – a very successful joint venture between SABM and Coca-Cola Amatil. Following the acquisition of Carlton United Beverages (CUB) by SABM and the windup of the Pacific Beverages joint venture Pod moved into CUB in senior roles working closely with Ari Mervis. SABM was then acquired by AB Inbev and that eventually created the opportunity for Pod to return ‘home’ to us at Coca-Cola Amatil in February 2016.

"There was a huge amount of respect and affection for Pod at Amatil from his time with us leading the Pacific Beverages joint venture, and in many ways it felt like he had never left.

"His skills, talent and leadership were invaluable and we put his utility skills to good use in senior roles across our flagship Australian Beverages business. He made an immediate difference in helping us through the significant change agenda. During 2017 he stepped into the Managing Director role at a pivotal time. It was just wonderful to behold the way his leadership inspired and motivated everyone in this wonderful business of ours. At this time, Pod also joined our Group Leadership Team.

"Exactly one year ago to this very day, Pod and I had an unplanned road trip. Our Group Leadership Team was in Atlanta and San Fransisco with our board. It was a long week and Pod and I were scheduled to fly from San Fran to LA then onto Sydney on the Friday night. Just as we were in the car to the airport in San Fran I got a message to say our LA flight had been cancelled, as had many others, for weather reasons. I made a captain’s call that we’d drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to LA. That’s a beautiful drive and highly recommended for a leisurely long weekend.

"Well Pod and I needed to do it in six hours; it was always going to be tight, and bottom line is we missed our flight cut off by an agonisingly close 20 mins. To make matters worse halfway down the road our travel agent got back to us and informed us they had found a flight for us out of San Fran - by that stage we were past the point of no return. To add insult to injury there was a major conference on near LA airport and the only affordable hotel accommodation we could find was a two star Country Comfort overlooking the freeway. I felt wracked with guilt as we checked in to our dingy hotel because I knew Pod’s health had been put to the test after a week on the road and clearly I’d made the wrong call to attempt the drive. Pod – well he on the other hand professed to be privileged and delighted to have had the longest feedback and development session of his career.

"Pod formally finished up with us in July and wrote a beautiful letter to me around then in which he expressed his appreciation for his time, all too short as it was, as our Managing Director of Australian Beverages. It read:

Dear Alison

Well it’s just about time to “call it a day”. I’ve obviously had a lot of time to reflect on the last 3 years and to say that “I am immensely grateful” would simply be an understatement.

I’ve truly loved leading the business in 2017. I felt supported and really believed that you always had my back. It was emotionally a really important “box to tick” for me and I am very grateful for the opportunity.

"Pod finished up his leaving letter to me with an offer of help which I, like every single one of us, wish so much I could continue to accept.

"Pod said… if there is anything I can ever do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask. I am only a call away. 

"Vale Pod. We miss you."