Xiaoyan (Shell) Huang
Global Vice President, Research to Experimentation, The Coca-Cola Company
I really love my job which is the most important factor to feel accomplishment from working!
Additional degrees & licenses received
Ph.D., Polymer Science, University of Akron, Ohio
Executive MBA – Harvard Business School, Coca-Cola Contour Program, 2018
What is your current (or most recent) job, what does a typical day look like, and how did UConn prepare you for this role?
My current role is Global VP, Research to Experimentation at The Coca-Cola Company, leading the transformational innovations in beverage ingredients, formulation, packaging, and dispensing equipment. My typical day would have 5-6 conference calls with my teams, and with our internal and external business partners, on our key projects, strategy, business planning, collaborations, etc. My studies at UConn helped be to become a strong Chemist which is the foundation of my professional growth throughout my career.
Tell us about your experience as a Chemistry student at UConn.
I studied organic chemistry courses at the Chemistry Department first. Then, I did research at IMS (Institute of Material Science) and got a M.S. in Polymer Chemistry.
Prof. Sukie Sung, who is a female from Korea, really inspired me to pursue a Ph.D. in the Polymer field and to have a strong career as an Asian female.
The faculties at the Chemistry Department were very nice to foreign students like me, although my English was not good at beginning. I really appreciate the kindness, openness and help from the Chemistry Department when I studied there in 1987-1988.
Can you tell us about your experience post-graduation?
After I got my Master’s Degree from UConn, I transferred to University of Akon and got my Ph.D. in Polymer Science. Then, I started to work in the polymer industry.
In 2005, I joined The Coca-Cola Company, worked on sustainable packaging, external technology acquisition, and was general manager of R&D centers in LATAM and in APAC regions.
In 2021, I became Global VP of Research to Experimentation to lead transformational innovations and deliver scalable solutions that meets consumer needs.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to current students?
If you love chemistry, please continue to study chemistry, and don’t get distracted. A couple of my classmates at the Chemistry Department were influenced by others and transferred from Chemistry to Accounting which appeared to be faster to graduate and easier to find a job. But my passion is to study chemistry and polymer materials, and I am so happy that I stayed with my passion and pursued a Ph.D. in Polymer Science. I love what I do (creating new polymer materials for industry applications) which led me to The Coca-Cola Company. I really love my job which is the most important factor to feel accomplishment from working!