Call it the second coming of Donald Keough. After retiring from a legendary 43-year career at Coca-Cola in 1993, Keough was treated as persona non grata by M. Douglas Ivester, who succeeded him as president and later became CEO. When Keough sent Ivester a memo last October offering advice on how to handle the contamination scare in Europe and a discrimination suit back home, Ivester sent a curt thank-you note.
Ivester is gone, but his successor, Douglas Daft, has no problem tapping Keough's wisdom. Daft has long sought Keough's advice, but on Oct. 23, he made the relationship official by naming Keough as a special adviser to the board of the Atlanta behemoth.
Daft's gesture should also play well with Coke's star-studded board, which had grown weary of Ivester's go-it-alone style of management. Keough, 74, was a childhood friend of fellow Omaha native Warren Buffett and serves as chairman of Herbert Allen's New York investment bank. Both Buffett and Allen sit on the Coke board.