Mr. Ed Steinike is Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO) for The Coca-ColaCompany. He is responsible for the leadership of the Company’s information technology strategy, services and operations.
Mr. Steinike began his tenure at The Coca-Cola Company as Chief Technology Officer in 2002, responsible for all technology, including networks, data centers, operations, data warehousing and systems architecture.
From 2004 to 2007, Mr. Steinike was the Company’s Chief Development Officer and CIO forCoca-Cola North America. In this role, he worked closely with the business to leverage technology for delivering business results and introduced key applications in finance, business planning, consumer web services, customer relationship management, supply chain andinnovation.
From 2007 to 2010, Mr. Steinike was at ING Insurance, where he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer. While at ING, he was responsible for all aspects of customer and information technology systems/services.
Prior to joining The Coca-Cola Company, Mr. Steinike worked at General Electric from 1976 to 2002, holding positions of increasing responsibility in manufacturing, service, engineering and IT; including CIO for GE Energy Services and GE Medical Systems.
Mr. Steinike is a member of various CIO associations and serves on the board of advisors for the College of IT at Georgia Southern University. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Marquette University.
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world’s largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most valuable and recognizable brands, our Company’s portfolio features 20 billion-dollar brands including, Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, POWERADE, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia, Dasani, FUZE TEA and Del Valle. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks. Through the world’s largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy our beverages at a rate of 1.9 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Together with our bottling partners, we rank among the world’s top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system associates.
Be genuine. Take advantage of opportunities. And know what drives you.
I was like most 16-year-olds at the time – with one unique spark that has driven me since: I liked to study electronics. In 1975, I was finishing a typical high school experience in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. In addition to my hobbies, I hung out with friends, got into my share of trouble, and found a job working with elevator control systems for the Allen-Bradley Company. I wasn’t ashamed to be a technical geek. It interested me – in fact, it was a passion. And it serves me today better than ever.
After high school, I followed my interests to Milwaukee Area Technical College to pursue a two-year degree in biomedical engineering, an emerging field of study at the time that immediately paid off in personal opportunity for me. Within my first year, General Electric asked the school for potential candidates who may have been interested in working for their new computed tomography line of business – what today we call at CT scan, or CAT scan. As I hadn’t been shy about my passion for things technical, the school pointed GE in my direction. Within two weeks, at 18 years old, I found myself being shown through GE’s office for their new medical equipment business. As I passed an individual connecting cables to one of the new devices, I couldn’t help myself, saying to my prospective boss, “I’m not going to be doing that, am I?”
Apparently I hadn’t insulted him. Within a month I was employed by GE. I quickly recognized a two-year Associate degree wasn’t going to be enough, and I began to understand the power of passion and opportunity. My interest in engineering, electronics and technology inspired me to enroll at Marquette University for a BS in Electrical Engineering with a focus on Computer Engineering. That passion, intersecting with the opportunity for GE to pay for my education, solidified my lifelong journey with technology.
I was two years into my degree at Marquette while working at GE when I overheard my boss and another employee arguing about who to send to Europe to start up that region in the burgeoning medical equipment business. Again, unable to control myself, I interrupted and said, “I can go!” While my boss didn’t seem too receptive, an hour later the other gentleman approached me, “It’s lucky you stepped in. I asked your boss about you.” Within two days, I took an official request from GE for an expedited passport to Chicago. Two weeks later I found myself in Basel, Switzerland, part of a small team of people solely focused on our new business. From there, I went on to Cologne, Germany, then to another city in Europe, then another. Two and one-half years later, I wandered back into Marquette University’s Office of the Registrar hoping to pick up where I’d left off, spending an hour explaining why I had “disappeared” in the middle of a semester. So maybe I hadn’t planned it out well enough. But I’d made a choice, and it was a smart one for me.
I convinced each of my professors to let me take the exams I’d missed, and I was back in the saddle of my degree. But with far greater real world experience under my belt that continued to fuel my passion.
I continued my journey with GE Medical Systems by joining the Applied Science Laboratory where I worked with 22 scientists who nicknamed me “Doc.” I was the only non-PhD member of the team. But within two months, I was pulled back to Europe, standing up business operations in Madrid. I stayed with the Applied Science Lab for seven years, and managed to apply and receive a US patent in medical engineering.
Today, I’m the Chief Information Officer of The Coca-Cola Company, lucky enough to be the technology leader for one of the world’s best loved, longest lasting brands. It is a role that I embrace every day, one where technology is radically changing the way we do business – the connections between our consumers and our brands – week by week. The takeaway from my story? There was no CIO role in business when I started. That’s not why I studied technology and engineering. I pursued those things because they inspired me. I was passionate about it. It helped me learn how to think through things. Fast forward to today – and to you and where you are in your journey. Most US-based students study things like Finance or Business. That’s great. But my story is one that highlights the power of doing something that intrigues you. Engineering and technology fuels me every day as I use technology to advance Coca-Cola’s business. I challenge you to find what fuels you. I encourage you to avoid being focused on an end-point job or role as your goal. My path changed directions quickly and often. No business today can operate without technology. In fact, soon seems nothing will. STEM seems to offer a fantastic, wide open future. And it doesn’t hurt that most of the influential, highest earning leaders in this country are in technology. Why wouldn’t you make it work for you?