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Celebrating the achievements of strong women on the road to equality

Credit: Alamy

Sue Eilfeld, VP People & Culture and Inclusion & Diversity

Sue Eilfeld, VP People & Culture and Inclusion & Diversity | Coca-Cola Europacific Partners

5 min read Partner content

As we strive towards equal opportunities for all, inspirational women at CCEP are showing each day that the future is bright.

International Women’s Day last week provided a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the incredible women who’ve made a difference in their fields and helped to accelerate equality for women.

For me, it’s also been a time to reflect on the fantastic women that I’m lucky enough to work with at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) and all the things that they’re doing to help us build a diverse workforce and encourage an inclusive culture, so that we can build in more equity, and offer more equal opportunities for all.

From the women who are leading the charge to make our business more sustainable, to our apprentices and engineers and field sales reps within our commercial teams and across all of our corporate groups, to those who have been integral to the work of our JustBe network - a group of allies engaging colleagues in the business’ Inclusion, Diversity & Equity (ID&E) strategy - I feel privileged to work with some really inspirational women who are truly driving change within CCEP and beyond.

Sam, Akalya, Daisy and Vanessa are four of these fantastic female pioneers. I wanted to share their stories:

Sam Walker, Director, Field Sales, GB

“I’ve been with CCEP for 22 years, both here in GB and Sweden, and I’m currently CCEP GB’s Field Sales Director.

“One of my observations when working in Sweden, where flexible working is the norm, was the value of their ‘total life’ approach to work.

“It’s made me want to challenge our ways of working as I now firmly believe that work arrangements should be flexible and able to evolve as our personal circumstances change, to make sure that we’re getting a healthier balance that works for each individual. 

“I’ve recently made some changes to my role to be able to work more flexibly. I now work four days a week to make sure my working life compliments my personal life, so I can be at my best in both my roles.”

Akalya Valavan, National Account Manager

“I’m a National Account Manager at CCEP GB. I’m from a Sri Lankan background and my parents warned me against going into sales, as they feared it would be hard for someone from my background to succeed. However, I was determined not to let my heritage be a barrier and I’ve been lucky that CCEP has opened up so many opportunities for me. 

“And now I want to be a positive role model for others from multicultural backgrounds. Because of my own experience, I’m passionate about encouraging greater cultural awareness within National Accounts and the wider business. In the last six months, I’ve hosted more than ten live sessions to encourage conversations about the topic, and I’m also working to improve our recruitment processes to ensure they are inclusive to all candidates.

“My ambition is that at least 15% of the National Accounts team will be multicultural by 2025, at every level. This will help us achieve our mission of being a business where every single person can be themselves, be valued and belong.”

Daisy Abson, Level 3 Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Apprentice

“I’m currently in the final year of my apprenticeship at CCEP, completing my Level 3 in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.

“I came into CCEP straight from school with no experience in engineering, but over the last three years my confidence has grown loads. I’m now responsible for the maintenance and performance of production lines on site, helping to keep them running safely and efficiently; a responsibility I’m really proud of.

“I’m passionate about engineering and want to help pass this on to the next generation, particularly future female talent. I’ve been able to volunteer through our virtual work experience programme, giving school children a glimpse into a big business like CCEP and showing them how what they learn at school can be applied in jobs like mine.”

Vanessa Smith, Director, Supply Chain Operations, GB


“I’ve been working at CCEP for almost two and a half years as Director in Supply Chain Operations. I’ve worked in various supply chain roles in the FMCG industry over the years and have found manufacturing to be fairly male-dominated, particularly at more senior levels.

“However, since joining CCEP I’ve worked with some truly inspiring young women who have grown and developed into young leaders of the future. There are so many opportunities available in the food and drink industry, and I’d encourage anyone – regardless of gender or background – to explore what’s out there.”

Sam, Akalya, Daisy and Vanessa are all making a huge difference in helping CCEP become a diverse and equitable place to work, where people of all genders are supported and their achievements celebrated. It’s a real privilege for me to be able to call these women, and so many others, my colleagues.

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