Refreshing Attitude: The theatre business goes better with Coca-Cola’s Stefanie Miller

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The Coca-Cola Company has been serving refreshments to the cinema industry for over 100 years. For the past 18 years, Stefanie Miller has applied her strategic vision, marketing expertise and leadership skills to deploy Coca-Cola’s strong brands and assets to assist customers throughout the world. Stefanie leads a one-billion-dollar global Strategic Partnership Marketing Division for The Coca-Cola Company, reaching more than 100 countries across multiple channels including airlines, lodging and hotels, cinemas, theme parks, film studios, cruise lines and top 400 colleges and universities. She is responsible for the long-term vision that considers the complete portfolio of Coca-Cola partnerships and the delivered value to its partners.

Stefanie is a seasoned Navy child and relocated from base to base, Guam to Washington State, as a toddler before settling in Slidell, Louisiana to finish her high-school degree. She attended Louisiana Tech University, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in marketing and business. Stefanie helped support herself in college working at the pool as a lifeguard, and this could explain why she is so experienced at saving some of us in the industry.

Her professional career began with a stint at Anheuser-Busch, where she was a merchandiser, and continued at a promotional marketing agency, where she facilitated national marketing programs including Rolling Rock and a line of Mexican beers. When Stefanie stepped onto the stage at Coca-Cola, her initial role was as an associate manager in the national Consumer Marketing department, where she led a team to build brand awareness and imagery for new product launches. In 1999, she accelerated her career by moving into the company’s Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Alliance group and accepted the leadership role in 2000. She managed brand alliances with large CPG companies such as Kraft, Nabisco and Hershey’s, increasing incremental values for these Coca-Cola partners. Meanwhile, she played an important function in diverse areas of The Coca-Cola Company’s business, leading to corporate strategies and business plans in Asia and specifically Laos.

Ms. Miller attributes many of her prevailing values to her grandmother, who at an early age taught her life’s real measurements. “It takes more muscles to frown than to smile,” she remembers her grandmother teaching her. Equally important, the true sense that anything can be accomplished with hard work and determination, which left an indelible mark on Stefanie which she has demonstrated throughout her career path. She has shown the ability to prove herself time and time again.

It is clear that Stefanie is a humble person who respects the views of multiple cultures. “I find most people to be interesting,” she states. “Every time I meet with people, they add a certain viewpoint or piece of information that I find intriguing. I find it remarkable that so many different people can add to my personal portfolio of knowledge, it just inspires me!”

Stefanie once thought she might not be at Coca-Cola very long for fear of growing intellectually bored, but she soon learned that the opportunities within the Coke family of businesses were exponential; with over 700,000 employees, 250 plants worldwide, serving Coca-Coca products in 207 countries, she found immense opportunities to grow her knowledge and career. Shortly after arriving at Coke, she was given an opportunity to expand her prospects in the CPG network, and even though she was considered an underdog for the position, she never wavered and proved to be the most talented personality. She finds that The Coca-Cola Company offers her the chance to learn something new every day, constantly getting insightful intelligence that keeps her stimulated. “I think I would be uncomfortable being comfortable,” she says. Her primary assets come from her capacity to be her whole self. While she considers herself flexible, she is proud to be open and transparent, realizing she does not have to be something she is not: She does not have to accept less, nor compromise her values.

We all recognize Stefanie through our association in the cinema industry, where her continuous support of CinemaCon, ShowEast and many other trade shows and conferences allows us the chance to “Share a Coke, and a Smile” at these events. Her guidance and support of the exhibition industry allows theatre owners, managers and associates to gain knowledge and network in an effort to professionalize themselves more completely. She could be given credit for improving the lifestyle of millions of exhibition staffers and personnel. Her contributions through sponsorships and financial support with The Coca-Cola Company’s backing have given everyone the ability to attend these meaningful events at a portion of the real cost. While we might call these sponsorships, I would suggest these are learning experiences and educational endowments.

Stefanie has used her skills and authority to lead the entertainment category and our exhibition industry with compassion and grace, all the while happy to donate her time, talents and treasures for so many others. She serves on the steering committee for the World Travel and Tourism Committee (WTTC), which supports 255 million jobs and generates nine percent of Global GDP. She serves on the advocacy committee of the board of directors network. She is a past president of Variety Club of Georgia, a founding member of Ribbons of Hope, and serves on the Agnes Scott College board of visitors.

Stefanie and her husband Craig have three children: Connor, 14, Lauren, 13, and Rebecca, 10. They named their first child Connor based on her favorite book, Trinity by Leon Uris. (The lead character is named Conor Larkin) and her favorite movie is Star Wars, the original. “I think I saw that movie 13 times, of course on the base,” she chuckles.

Her favorite movie snack is popcorn, but her favorite beverage has a special recipe which requires Coke’s latest innovation, a Coca-Cola FreeStyle machine. “I like a Diet Coke with Fanta Orange!” Now that is a first. When asked what her favorite brand of Coke product is, she starts with Diet Coke, then shifts to Coke Zero, then moves to “Well, uh…” Seems to us that Coca-Cola FreeStyle is perfect for people like Stefanie who want a little bit of everything Coke!