Penny Hughes – Keynote Speaker

President of Coca-Cola UK at 33, non-executive director of Reuters and Gap

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Penny Hughes Profile Picture

Specialist Subjects

  • Leadership
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Customer Service


  • English


Penny Hughes is one the UK’s outstanding business leaders. She graduated from Sheffield University and joined Procter & Gamble, first as a technologist, then in the sales and marketing department. She was then recruited to the Milk Marketing Board, and then joined Coca-Cola as a Brand Manager. By 1989, having successfully overseen the merger of Coca-Cola UK and Schweppes, she was appointed Commercial Director, aged 29.


In 1993, at the age of 33 she became President of Coca-Cola UK and Ireland.


In 1995 Penny Hughes left Coca-Cola to develop her portfolio of interests. Penny has held a number of important non-executive director positions including The Body Shop plc, Vodafone plc, Enodis (formerly Berisford plc) and Trinity Mirror plc. In December 2009 she was appointed non-executive Director of Morrison’s, the UK grocery chain. She is currently a Director of Reuters plc, Home Retail Group plc, SEB (banking) in Sweden and Gap Inc USA. Penny is also adviser to Bridgepoint Venture Capital and President of the UK Advertising Association.


In the book Roads To The Top, 18 outstanding leaders of British companies, including Sir John Harvey Jones, Sir Graham Day, Archie Norman and Gerry Robinson were profiled, in order to examine the personal qualities and management skills which brought them to their eminent positions. Penny Hughes was one of the individuals profiled, and her career was summarised thus: “In her mid-thirties, Penny Hughes as President of Coca-Cola Great Britain and Ireland occupies a role that has never before been filled by a woman, a “Brit” or anyone under forty. Her position as a young woman is almost as unique in British industry as it is in Coca-Cola”. She was also described thus: “Extremely self-confident, with an excellent strategic and analytical brain, informal style and strong interpersonal skills, Penny Hughes is natural, irrepressibly positive and impressively well-balanced”.


This breadth of experience allows Penny Hughes to share her thoughts on building long term profitable growth, drawing on examples across many sectors and many different kinds of businesses, large and small, both international or local.

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