Early Inspirations Lead to Career Path

Roberto Goizueta
Junior Achievement organization and first Cuban-born CEO set Jesús Grana on the road to marketing

While I didn’t grow rich and definitely nowhere near the 1 percent, I have always felt as one of the most blessed, if not the most blessed individual in the world. Very early in my teen years (around age 15 years during my sophomore year in high school) I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to go into business and even more specifically, marketing. Mind you, not advertising, not media but what even back then I knew was real marketing – managing a brand and every P there was to manage (I believe then and now that there are only four no matter what others say).

Roberto Goizueta Roberto Críspulo Goizueta led The Coca-Cola Company from 1980 until his death in 1997. When Goizueta was a boy, his father co-owned a sugar mill in Cuba. As Castro rose to power, Goizueta’s family defected to the U.S. and he began working for the Coca-Cola company, quickly rising in the ranks. During his 16 years as CEO, he increased Coca-Cola’s market value from $4 billion to $150 billion.

Two variables (one organizational and one human) were critical in reaching this early decision. Junior Achievement of Puerto Rico was the organizational one. For three years I met weekly with other fellow high school students to plan, manufacture, market and sell a product. This organization and the great corporate mentors I met helped shape my interest in a business career.

The human variable was Robert Goizueta. As I was getting ready to go into college, he became one of the first, if not the first, Cuban-born CEO of a major global corporation and, as far as I know, the only one to head one of the top brands in the world. (Bacardi doesn’t count; although, I am sure that we can discuss it over a couple of “Cuba Libres.”)

Teaching the World to Smile

Like me, he was born in Havana, a fact that not only gave me pride but also confirmed to me that, like him, I could achieve anything I wanted. Besides, I also wanted to teach the world to smile at that point.

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