James Quincey, Coca-Cola
James Quincey becomes c.e.o. May 1, 2017 succeeding Muhtar Kent, tenure 2008-16

Coca-Cola Co.

ATLANTA — Armed with what outgoing c.e.o. Muhtar Kent called “strategic vision and inspirational leadership,” James Quincey will take the reins of the Coca-Cola Co. on May 1.

What lies ahead for Mr. Quincey, though, is no easy task.

A 20-year veteran of the company, Mr. Quincey has held a variety of operational roles across the globe, including president of the South Latin Division, president of Mexico and president of the company’s Europe Group. Most recently he has been president and chief operating officer since August 2015.

Mr. Quincey’s ability to build winning cultures will be key as Coca-Cola looks for new ways to grow amid declining soda sales. The company also faces the challenge of dealing with sugar and soda taxes in cities across the United States.

A priority for Mr. Quincey in the coming year will be to find ways to accelerate growth of Coca-Cola’s non-carbonated beverages, which include such brands as Gold Peak Tea, Powerade and Smartwater.

In a September presentation at the Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference in Boston, Mr. Quincey said the company plans to pursue growth through a combination of innovation, bolt-on acquisitions and global expansion of premium brands.

“If we build them steadily — the combination of local, bolt-on, and the global expansions — we can build profitable positions in each of these stills categories and continue the ongoing share gains,” he said.

The sum of the actions, he said, may produce a dramatic result over time.