Coca-Cola India rejigs top deck, appoints Sarvita Sethi as V-P M&A

Sarvita Sethi will lead M&A and new ventures for Coke’s India and Southwest Asia region (left); Harsh Bhutani is the new CFO
Coca-Cola India has made two key changes at its top management. Keeping with developing business needs and investment in talent development, the Gurugram-headquartered firm has replaced its chief financial officer and appointed a new head for its incubation project.

Sarvita Sethi, who in 2016 had become the first woman to head the company’s finances for the region, would now be vice-president, merger and acquisitions (M&A) and new ventures, for Coke’s India and Southwest Asia region. Her appointment in a newly created position is of significance. In her new position, she will be responsible for the firm’s crucial incubator, which involves conceptualising, developing and launching new products relevant to the market, besides scaling up these new brands or products until they can be managed by general marketing and sales teams.

As Coca-Cola shifted its focus towards new areas of businesses, apart from its core cola portfolio, a year ago, its incubator model has become important for the firm’s future growth in a market that is increasingly becoming health conscious. In the past two years, Coke has introduced new products like Aquarius Glucocharge (at Rs 10) to grow its business beyond cola and cater for price-sensitive consumers. T Krishnakumar, Coke’s president for the region, emphasised on developing such products and brands which will be in line with the market’s needs.

“There are significant opportunities that lie ahead of us to grow our portfolio and meaningfully penetrate the market. It is our constant endeavour to strengthen the leadership team for strong, sustainable future growth and address developing business needs. It also reinforces our commitment towards investing in talent development,” said Krishnakumar.

In her new role, Sethi will be responsible for any new acquisition — a move that Coke has been pursuing continuously, Krishnakumar had told Business Standard earlier.

Sethi, now in her mid-forties and a chartered accountant with more than 15 years of experience in corporate finance, had worked for Sainsbury’s and Viacom in London before joining Coca-Cola in 2008.

She is known for her “results-oriented” mindset and her expertise in financial operations of fast-moving consumer goods firms. Her journey in the professional world began as an audit manager for the global audit and consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCooper in London in 1996. Before joining the professional world, Sethi went to City University London to finish her Bachelor’s in Science degree in economics and accountancy in 1995. 

Bhutani, a veteran at Coke’s bottling arm Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages, will take over from Sethi on August 1. Bhutani, who has been the CFO of HCCB since April 2016, is the new CFO for Coca-Cola India. Before joining HCCB in 1999, he was with Swiss industrial products and solutions conglomerate — Asea Brown Boveri. 

A chartered accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Bhutani has earned a name for himself, among his friends and colleagues, as an efficient business planner.

“As a system resource, he (Bhutani) brings in multifaceted experience from almost all the domains of finance encompassing business strategy, planning & execution, treasury, tax & risk management to name a few”, Coca-Cola India said in a statement.

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