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PEOPLE

The Power of Refreshment with Coca Cola's Florence Yu

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What’s the one thing that motivates you? “The Power Series”, featuring Taikoo Place tenants, offers thought leadership insights from industry experts on the “power” of their initiatives in relation to everyday life. In October, Coca-Cola China Limited’s Public Affairs and Communications Director, Florence Yu, talks to us about the power of refreshment.

All along, I had worked at PR agencies managing communications, promotions and crises for clients from different industries. Then a head hunter offered me an in-house opportunity. I thought it might be a good chance to try a role where I could strategise the company communications direction through an internal lens, instead of external. That was the first “refreshment” of my career path, if you will…

Little did I know that I would be responsible for the strategic management of a company that’s all about the joys of refreshment, in more ways than you would expect! Nowadays, I am in charge of developing Coca-Cola’s public reputation, corporate and marketing communications, sustainability initiatives and issues management for Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and Mongolia. 

Coca-Cola is a beloved brand. I’m always happy when others share their fond memories of Coca-Cola experiences with me – like when they visited a bottling plant. I appreciate that our brand heritage fuels us with pride in our work, and that our intrinsic brand values serve as a starting point for every project. But it takes a lot of creativity to keep our brand “refreshed” – we are over 130 years old!

I really enjoy doing this, and take notes from my work for my own life. Working with colleagues to monitor trends to bring in a new initiative is always interesting. It gives me insight into what the public is looking for right now, and how we can keep things feeling new and relevant. Though we may be experts in our field, it’s important to continuously invigorate our portfolio with new ideas to meet current consumer needs and demands, and not to fall back on the tried-and-true.

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Be inspired by your Taikoo Place neighbours –
Read more from The Mag’s POWER SERIES.  

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“We need to take a renewed approach to our responsibility to the world.”
So, I have to always re-evaluate how to deliver our messages. This has changed through the generations, of course. And in order to know what to say, we need to first listen to the needs. That’s the most exciting thing for my function. But thinking of creative and engaging ways to promote our products and initiatives is not all it’s about. I also know that what’s increasingly important for everyone, both professionally and personally, is to think about taking care of a different set of shared, bigger needs…we need to take a renewed approach to our responsibility to the world.

I find a lot of inspiration through our company’s vision, which is “Refresh the World. Make a Difference”. And our latest “Go Beyond Good” initiative is taking us even further in our efforts. It starts with us going beyond just making products to offer healthier, more diversified and unsweetened beverage options to enhance people’s wellbeing in Hong Kong…

Next is how we are going beyond recycling to begin reinventing, to build a more sustainable future. We work with stakeholders in a cross-industry consortium that aims to reduce plastic beverage packaging going to strained landfills in Hong Kong. We’re globally committed to collecting and recycling 100% of packaging we sell by 2030 and using 50% of recycled material in our packaging by 2025.

In 2018, we introduced the Bonaqua Water Stations, which kick-started the “Bring Your Own Bottle” movement. It was a project I was extremely proud of. There’s even a reverse vending machine at The Loop in Taikoo Place managed by our close partner Swire Coca-Cola HK to make recycling easy and rewarding for our Quarry Bay neighbours! Our continuous new efforts reminds me that we can keep doing our little bit to contribute to collective good – and that we can always encourage one another to do even better.
Another thing I love is that we’re also going beyond just supporting, to empowering our community. During the pandemic, we partnered with Dignity Kitchen. We provided low-income families and ethnic minority groups with meals and drinks, and cooking classes so they can make nutritious yet affordable meals at home. The energy and passion of community events really motivate me and enhance my self-reflection on what truly matters in life. I hope everyone can go beyond good in their own ways to make a difference in the world.

This year’s “new normal” has required all of us to take a different view on work. I always remind our team members to embrace change, and to be agile in adapting to new situations. To discover a refreshed perspective on their roles. Just as we listen to our consumers, we must listen to our teammates, too, and support them. This is a crucial time for leaders to cultivate a growth mindset in their teams and to empower them to be curious about the unknown. We also like to encourage breaks to re-energise the work day – the very reason why our pantry has an unlimited flow of Coca-Cola products!

I’ve worked at the Coca-Cola Company for 14 years now. But it’s these fresh ideas that keep me looking forward to what’s ahead. But I also know that I must reserve some time by myself to have my mind not just focused on work; this is me listening to my refreshment needs! COVID-19 has suspended a lot of my family’s weekend activities and my business travels. During this time of staying in at home, I rediscovered a number of interests, like sewing. With my kids, we draw, bake cakes and make “400 times coffee” [Dalgona coffee] together. And we love it. Taking things slow can be so rejuvenating. Be it at work, in life, in responsibility, mentally, physically, by ourselves or with our loved ones – we all need a “refreshment” of some sort, from time to time! 

How does the past influence the future? Read about The Power of Heritage with Swire HK Archive Service’s Bonnie Sze.

Interested in being featured in The Power Series? Get in touch.

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