Irial Finan, a Roscommon man was named after one of Ireland’s high kings, a fitting name for the Irishman who sits comfortably at the helm of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Atlanta.
Finan (53) is the executive vice-president of the $35-plus-billion Coco-Cola bottling empire, a long way from his humble beginnings in Castlerea County Roscommon.
“I love my job and this is a great company,” he said on his career in a recent conversation with the Irish Times.
With over 80,000 employees around the globe, the top executive clocks up a lot of air miles with the company, having touched down in 11 countries this year alone so far. But the travel, he says, is not a glamorous element of his job.
“The day you start feeling, wow I’m great, I’m travelling all over the place, you’ve lost it,” says Finan.
This year the company celebrates its 125th year in existence.The Irishman, who has been based in Atlanta since 2004, was honored last Thursday at the annual American Ireland Fund Gala dinner in New York. The businessman was presented with the Leslie C. Quick Jr. Leadership Award in recognition for his personal and professional commitment to Ireland.
After studying commerce in University College Galway and training as an accountant, Finan began working with the soft drink giant in his early twenties. By the time he was 25, he was the financial director of one of Coke’s operation in Dublin.
Now with over 29-years of experience with the company, looking back on his journey he admits it has been a prosperous one.
“For me, in my life, I feel like I’ve been very successful,” he says.
The top executive told the Irish Times he tried to back to Ireland as often as he can, but admits he doesn’t “get home enough”. Despite this he follows his home county’s GAA progress and says he was content with Roscommon’s performance against New York in Gaelic Park last Sunday.
Speaking about Ireland’s future he personally thinks it has “has an awful lot going for it”.
“From the business perspective, the reasons why you would invest in Ireland haven’t changed,” he points out.
On Ireland’s new government he says they have “given a sense of a fresh start”.
“The heart of the point is that Ireland has a pretty substantial industrial base and we’ve got to keep building on that,” says Finan.
On Ireland’s future, the Roscommon man is optimistic:“From a personal perspective, I happen to believe Ireland’s best days are ahead. I just have to get everybody else to believe it.”