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Coca-Cola Adds Privacy Chief in Reshuffling Under New Top Lawyer

July 14, 2021, 7:26 PM

Coca-Cola Co. hired Courtney Stout to oversee global legal matters related to privacy and promoted Brian Henry to be its new general counsel for North America.

Stout comes to Coca-Cola after roughly four years at S&P Global Inc., where she most recently was chief privacy officer, associate general counsel, and data protection officer. Stout’s job as Coca-Cola’s privacy chief will see her “define global privacy and legal personal data strategy,” according to her LinkedIn profile.

Henry has been a senior managing counsel for venturing and emerging brands and a North America competition counsel at Coca-Cola, where he’s spent more than 19 years. As of Aug. 1, he will be the company’s North America general counsel.

The appointments at the world’s largest beverage company come almost three months after Monica Howard Douglas became Coke’s new general counsel. The longtime in-house lawyer for the Atlanta-based company succeeded the ousted Bradley Gayton, who had been hired last year from Ford Motor Co.

“Grateful for the confidence that Monica Howard Douglas has placed in me to help lead the continuing journey of this magical company,” Henry wrote this week on his LinkedIn profile. Stout didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Coca-Cola, known for keeping secret the formulas behind some of its signature products, has like other major global companies had to cope with hackers gaining access to sensitive information. Several years ago some 74,000 Coca-Cola employees had their personal information compromised by computer theft.

Henry joined Coca-Cola in 2002 after a half-dozen years at French tire maker Michelin. Prior to that he was a partner at Washington’s Collier Shannon Rill Scott, which merged in 2006 with Kelley Drye & Warren, and an associate at Jones Day.

Henry told Bloomberg Law in an email that senior labor and employment counsel Derek Gilliam is now executive counsel and primary assistant to the general counsel, while Livingstone Johnson, senior managing counsel for global marketing, information technology, and supply chain, has been elevated to associate general counsel for procurement and supply chain.

Johnson, who once served as executive counsel to Coca-Cola’s former legal chief Geoffrey Kelly, who was succeeded in December 2011 by the now-retired Bernhard Goepelt, has also been general counsel for the nonprofit Coca-Cola Foundation Inc.

Another opening for an international general counsel, a position held by the recently retired C. Benjamin Garren Jr., has not yet been filled, Henry said.

Top Privacy Hire

Coca-Cola’s addition of Stout was mentioned during a July 13 privacy webinar hosted by Davis Polk & Wardwell antitrust counsel Jonathan Leibowitz, a former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, and Chandler, Ariz.-based information technology company IntraEdge Inc.’s Truyo privacy platform.

Leibowitz started off the discussion by introducing Stout as “soon to be the chief privacy officer of the Coca-Cola Co.” Stout, voicing her own opinion and not that of her employer, subsequently said she’s noticed that consumers, not policymakers, have been the driving force for federal privacy legislation that could help guide companies navigating a patchwork of privacy laws.

Stout noted that the coronavirus pandemic was a “game-changer” for in-house privacy chiefs. Remote work brought about corporate mandates to optimize business, performance, and technology solutions, which required privacy teams to work with cybersecurity and information security experts, she said. Layered on top of that were health guidelines that sometimes conflicted across jurisdictions.

“Every single city, every single country, and every single state had their own regulations, which changed on a weekly or daily basis,” Stout said. “China and Singapore are requiring employees to provide specific information, and yet in the Netherlands or EU you’re not allowed to ask those questions in any way.”

S&P hired Stout in mid-2017 as a Charlottesville, Va.-based assistant general counsel and managing attorney after she spent a year working as a privacy and data security counsel at Davis Wright Tremaine in Washington.

“In my time at S&P Global we grew privacy from a single attorney to a global team of subject matter experts,” Stout wrote last month in a LinkedIn post announcing her departure. She also praised her now former in-house colleagues at S&P, including general counsel Steven Kemps, hired in 2016 by the financial services company.

Kemps didn’t respond to a request for comment about Stout’s departure. S&P declined to discuss Stout, who prior to joining the company also spent more than a decade doing commercial, information outsourcing, and privacy work at the law firms now called Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and Hunton Andrews Kurth.

Katherine Fithen, a veteran information security executive who is now a director of the information handling program at Big Four accounting firm KPMG LLP, previously served as Coca-Cola’s privacy chief.

In January, Coca-Cola retained former Boeing Co. general counsel J. Michael Luttig, a former federal appellate judge who retired last year from the aviation giant, to be a special adviser the company in a $3.4 billion tax dispute with the IRS. Luttig is part of a high-powered team representing Coca-Cola in that case before the U.S. Tax Court.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com;
John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com