“Always persevere. Keep going even when everyone else has given up."
Dexter Harris, Vice President of Supply Chain Finance at Coca-Cola North America, The Coca-Cola Company believes in helping others achieve. He received a B.S in Accounting from North Carolina A&T University and an MBA with a concentration in finance from the University of Minnesota.
Dexter’s father is one of the people who helped shaped him into the leader he is today. He also had a high school mentor who helped guide him. Dexter also credits both of his parents for contributing to much of his success. Many of the things he learned from them such as being on time, how to treat people, giving back when you can, etc. had a “disproportionate effect” on his achievements. Dexter first remembers leading at seventeen and joined the Army. He became an officer and stayed in the Army Reserves for six years. Participating in the Army Reserves helped Dexter to pay for college. The cost of college was a barrier that Dexter overcame, and he is thankful for those that helped advise him.
When Dexter started college, he wanted to major in engineering like his brother. He quickly decided that was not the best route for him and majored in accounting instead. If Dexter could give his younger self advice, he would encourage him to take more risks. He picked his major based on getting a job after college. Sometimes he wishes he would have started a business when he was younger. He encourages others to follow their passion. Dexter also advises for people to learn about personal finance and money management at an early age. His sixteen year-old daughter is currently receiving lessons from him.
In the workplace, Dexter believes in effective communication. He tries to stay away from using jargon when talking with people in other disciplines. As a leader, Dexter is described as someone who, “does a lot of great things at Coke as well as the community.” Dexter strives to be an inclusive leader who empowers the team to move forward. He also believes in creating a fun working atmosphere due to the amount of time spent in the workplace.
Similar to other minorities working in corporate America, Dexter has seen there can be pressures to perform. He believes over time he’s gotten better with navigating those barriers. Dexter is motivated to help other minorities. Many have questions about how to work their way up to a position like the one he is today. Taking care of his family is Dexter’s top motivator.
Multiple no’s might deter some from a goal or path, but not Dexter. In business and in life he believes in persevering despite the obstacles. One example he shared was when he was trying to pursue his high school sweetheart. That woman is now his wife. Dexter has also experienced no’s in the workplace and people who thought he couldn’t succeed. Instead of believing the naysayers, it drove him. Dexter remarked, “I don’t hold grudges. People may reflect their lack of drive and risk taking upon you, and you have to overcome it. Don’t take their perception of what you’re capable of”.
Dexter’s family makes him smile because they are all funny. Deter remarks that his wife and daughter are extroverted, while he is not. For those that know how introverted he is, you may not believe that Dexter was a high-end vacuum cleaner salesman in college. In his alone time, he enjoys reading, jazz, and running. His favorite object is extremely sentimental, his father’s WWII Purple Heart. One item still on Dexter’s bucket list is starting a business; and because his favorite word is perseverance expect for this goal to be fulfilled.
Dexter encourages future leaders to:
Always… have a healthy respect for those you’re leading and try to understand their views and lead from their perspective. Have fun, it moves the team forward and empowers the team.
Never… take your team members for granted. Make sure they feel appreciated and understood, spend time with them, and understand what their goals are.
Follow… your parent’s advice.
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