Real Magic: Coca-Cola, Pride & TEDx #Interview 🌈

Real Magic: Coca-Cola, Pride & TEDx #Interview 🌈

Hey Antony, how are you doing today?

Today is going well, thank you! I’m looking forward to a great summer ahead, it is one of the lucky parts of living in Athens. I’m also looking forward to this interview, thanks for having me!

Oh, I love Athens and our thanks to you for this interview! 🙂 We do start our interviews with a short Word Wrap, I would kindly ask you to answer very short! Let’s start:

+ Your last AHA moment: A few weeks ago. I was really really disappointed when something really important to my husband and me fell through at the last minute, which based on facts at the time we’d assumed was definitely happening. My AHA moment that came from this, and one I have had many times, is that nothing can be taken for-granted, and that nothing is guaranteed to us or owed to us in life. A lot of times, we just need to dust ourselves off and try again! 🫂
+ Friends call me: Protective! ⛨
+ Favourite food: Literally any type of pasta, I could live off pasta for my entire life. 🍽️
+ The last time you cried was: Missing my family who still live in my hometown of Sydney. I live in Athens now, and a few weeks ago when I visited Sydney and was saying goodbye, I did cry. Australia is very, very far away from Europe! 🇦🇺
+ Favourite song: Hearts & Flowers by Jennifer Lopez. It may not be a chart topper, but it is a current song with great beat and really resonant lyrics.🎤
+ Superpower wish: Since I was a kid I always wanted to be able to ‘orb’, which is sort of like teleporting, just like Paige from Charmed, which was my favorite TV show as a teenager. ✨
+ The best idea people ever came up with:  Not sure it is the best, but a recent thing I can think of off the top of my head are the ever-growing plant-based food options. I became vegetarian 4 years ago, and plant-based options really made it easier for me, and a lot of others, to switch and stick to a more plant-based diet. 🍀

This interview is done with Antony Kontellis, Senior HR Director, The Coca-Cola Company Europe and Mathias Haas, Curator at TEDxDonauinsel.  Coca-Cola is main partner for our TEDx Donauinsel Salon #PRIDE

Coca Cola is a hub of innovative ideas, much like TEDx. Could you introduce some of the innovations at Coca-Cola?

Two recent innovations that I personally like a lot at Coca-Cola are:

The Sprite “label-less bottles”, a pilot where the labels are temporarily removed from single 500ml Sprite and Sprite Zero bottles and replaced with an embossed logo on the front of the pack, and with laser-engraved product and nutritional information on the back of pack. It is exciting to see that we’re striving to test and try out innovations in areas which would’ve been difficult to imagine some years back.

The Coca‑Cola® Y3000 Zero Sugar, one of the innovations of our “Creations” series that was co-created with human and artificial intelligence. Fans’ perspectives from around the world, combined with insights gathered from artificial intelligence, helped inspire us to create the unique taste of Y3000. And I loved the flavor 😊

Find out more about the Naked Label-Less Sprite Bottle 

What does PRIDE mean for Coca-Cola?

Celebrating Pride all over Europe and supporting local LGBTIQ+ organizations during Pride season means a lot to us, and this also means not only during Pride but importantly also all year. It is so important to me to play a role in reminding younger generations that Pride is also a time to educate oneself on those who have paved the way for our community in generations passed, and never take anything we have today for granted. So, Pride itself links directly to our European LGBTIQ+ Inclusion Network’s 3 pillars – Awareness, Educate and Celebrate. The impact of Coca-Cola’s ongoing partnerships with prominent events like EuroPride is a source of immense pride – Coca-Cola has been the main official partner for EuroPride for the past 4 years, including this year’s EuroPride, which is extra-special for me since it is hosted in my home of Greece, in Thessaloniki.

How do you ensure that Coca-Cola remains a space that is welcoming and inclusive for all?

We believe that a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace makes us stronger as a company, enables us to create a better shared future for employees and communities, empowers access to equal opportunity and builds belonging in our workplaces and in society.

Our aspiration is not only to mirror the diversity of the communities where we operate, but also to lead and advocate for a better shared future.

Also, one of the main goals of our European LGBTIQ+ Inclusion Network is to create a safe and inclusive environment for all employees, all year, and to open dialogue with initiatives that have encouraged safety in community members sharing their experiences and stories so we can learn from each other and expand perspectives.

What motivated Coca-Cola’s decision to collaborate with TEDx?

Both The Coca-Cola Company and TEDx aim to inspire and foster positive change. So by collaborating, we can work together to spread innovative ideas and create an impact on a larger scale.

Reading often opens doors to new worlds and ideas. Is there a particular book you would recommend as a must-read?

I recently read Viola Davis’s memoir ‘Finding Me’ which is incredibly inspiring. I found it to be the perfect example of overcoming very humble and difficult beginnings to achieve huge success, and yet it is grounded in the reality that the obstacles and challenges don’t just disappear once someone achieves success in their field, so it is a great reminder of how important resilience and adaptability are to persevere through the ups and downs of life.

Davis, Viola FINDING ME A Memoir Gebunden, HarperCollins US (2022) O-BOOKS

Do you have a TED or TEDx Talk that resonates with you deeply? Which one is it and why?

I really loved the TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story,” in which Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses the potentially harmful effects of reducing complex individuals or cultures to a single narrative. As someone from the LGBTIQ+ community, this talk was a powerful reminder of the importance of representing diverse experiences and avoiding stereotypes, as having only one story told about a community can lead to misunderstanding and perpetuation of prejudice.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers that we haven’t covered?

Growing up I was quite shy and introverted, so I definitely never saw myself one day being in a position to advocate, and on such a broad scale across Europe no less. I didn’t believe it back then because I never saw it…as with many others from my generation, there really were not any visible role models in my daily life and barely any even in mainstream media. And role models really do matter, so much.

So, my hope is that if even one person sees anything I have done or put out there and feels seen, heard and that they matter, that they can be their full authentic self, then it is worth it. This is something I’m lucky to be able to lead in Coca-Cola, and something I admire about TEDx as well, the platform you give for diverse voices to motivate, inspire and open perspectives across borders is incredible. So, thank you again to TEDx Donauinsel for the opportunity to be part of that, thank you to anyone who has taken a few minutes to read, and happy Pride season to all!

Wow, Antony, thank you so, so much, for this emotional and deep interview, your incredible insights AND the work you do at Coca-Cola: it’s real magic! 

Thank you so much, Mathias!

Check out our Instagram to get a glimpse of our TEDxDonauinsel #PRIDE event, powered by Coca-Cola. <3 

Do you love writing, and would you like to be a guest writer at our TEDxDonauinsel Blog? Reach out at with your idea.