Coca Cola adds senior Facebook lawyer as international GC

Tech veteran Willie Hernandez joins beverages giant amid broader shake-up of legal leadership

A senior in-house lawyer at Facebook parent Meta has joined the Coca-Cola Company as its international general counsel. 

Willie Hernandez has taken on the brief to provide legal support to the beverage giant's brands in more than 200 jurisdictions after just shy of two years at Facebook, where he was head of legal for the instant messenger app. 

The international GC role at Coca-Cola is a relatively new one, having been created in 2018 when four group GC positions were consolidated under the leadership of Hernandez's predecessor, Ben Garren, who retired last February. 

Garren's remit saw him supervise legal professionals in more than 45 offices globally, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Coca-Cola's legal team has experienced several leadership changes over the last two years. It hit the headlines in January 2021 when the then general counsel, Bradley Gayton, who had recently joined from Ford, pledged to reduce the fees of advisers which failed to meet new diversity targets. 

In a surprise move, Gayton stood down into a consulting role three months later, making way for Monica Howard Douglas, a 17-year veteran of Coca-Cola. Douglas recently confirmed that her predecessor's diversity policy was never implemented. 

A tech sector veteran of more than two decades, Hernandez served as VP and deputy general counsel at Hewlett Packard before joining Facebook.

“I look forward to expanding my expertise as Coca-Cola writes its next chapter, and I am truly humbled by this opportunity and the trust Monica Howard Douglas and the rest of the senior leadership team have placed in me,” Hernandez wrote in a LinkedIn post earlier this week

Last June, Courtney Stout joined Coca-Cola as chief privacy officer from S&P Global and in February McDermott Will & Emery corporate partner Paul Puckett came aboard as senior legal counsel for M&A and strategic transitions. 

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