Blog Post

Why people come to Coke for the brand, and stay for the people: Clare Wardle, GC of Coca-Cola Europacific Partners plc (CCEP) on Talent & Retention

June 6, 2023

This month we interviewed Clare Wardle, General Counsel, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, on Talent Management and Rentention. Clare manages one of the largest legal teams in the UK and is passionate about getting the best from her team. If you missed it, we’ve got you covered with some takeaways below… “I think that, actually, what makes a difference is extraordinary flexibility for extraordinary life events, because that will really drive engagement and loyalty.”

This month we interviewed Clare Wardle, General Counsel, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, on ‘Why people come to Coke for the brand, but stay for the people.’

Clare manages one of the largest legal teams in the UK and is passionate about getting the best from her team.

If you missed it, we’ve got you covered with some takeaways below…


“I think that, actually, what makes a difference is extraordinary flexibility for extraordinary life events, because that will really drive engagement and loyalty.” 

- Clare Wardle, GC of Coca-Cola Europacific Partners plc

What is Extraordinary Flexibility?

Work from home for legal professionals  in today's marketplace is almost a given and barely considered a perk anymore...but what really matters to employees is when they are faced with extreme circumstances of difficulty – this is when flexibility matters the most. These acts are a true differentiator as they go deep.

Maintaining a Sense of Team Despite Remote Work

While flexibility is important, what is just as important is the feeling of being part of a team.  

“I think team is very important for retention.” 

For people to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in what they are doing for you, they need to feel as though they are playing a part in the team. 

Even if people are working from home, they still need to feel included, “because otherwise, it's quite counterproductive.”

Is Training A Big Deal?

Training your employees is an important part of both wellness and retention. 

It is a part of making your employee feel personally involved and valued, not just part of a mechanical conveyor belt. 

“I think actually showing people you care about them, and that they've got a development plan, and that they will have some training is a really, really important part of retaining them.” 

Allowing an individual access to a training course in something they are particularly interested in is also a really powerful way to keep their morale up.

Making people feel at home

Clare believes that treating everyone as their own individual and creating a bond between employees is crucial to wellness and retention. 

“My favourite one that I've now shared right across the team is if you come within six feet of a team member, right across the legal team, you have to smile. I like it because sometimes you are too busy to stop and converse.” 

It is important when a new employee first comes in to get to know them and ensure they know everything possible about the company to settle in, whilst the next step is ensuring every team member knows each other and feels included.

Ensuring individuals feel valued

Sometimes you can get lost in creating an atmosphere for teamwork that you forget to praise individuals and show them that they are valued.  

Clare reflected on a moment where an individual had sought praise for organising the team that completed a project and all they ever got as a result was “well done team.” 

For that reason you must not forget that individuals ultimately want to be valued, whilst also keeping in mind that it is very important that you give the correct amount of praise or critique at the right time. 

“We have disproportionate power when it comes to how people feel.”

Communication is key

Clare spoke about how one-to-one communication within her teams is key to wellness and retention.   

“I found it really, really useful for taking the temperature of teams so that you know when there's something brewing, because if that team conversation is a bit difficult and clunky you know that there's something going on, and then you can try and unpack it and get to the bottom of it.” 

This also allows for an opportunity to talk about life beyond work, whether it’s about what they did on the weekend, where they are going on holiday or basically anything else, a place to unwind is crucial. 

This is a space where the employer can get to know the employee on a deeper level, strengthening their relationship with each other and exposing anything which they are not happy with, ultimately improving wellbeing. 

Bringing people together with GC School

To alleviate lack of upward mobility within the department, Clare set-up a General Counsel school which allows employees to help each other learn more about each others specialities, to help each associate to become more well-rounded beyond their area of expertise.  

There is so much that goes into the job that some people will be skilled in a certain area but not elsewhere, and collaborating with someone who has a different skillset can be beneficial for both. 

“The person who heads up risk will absolutely know all about the risk end. The person who heads up governance, bring them together and you have a more powerful team.” 



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