NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Coca-Cola Co. is emerging as an industry leader in value-based compensation, and the woman behind that push is Sarah Madden Armstrong, director-worldwide media and communication operations. Since her first week on the job in 1997, she has traveled the globe on behalf of Coca-Cola, working with local marketing teams and agencies, a distinction that made her the company's choice to handle the value-based-compensation project, said Scott McCune, VP-integrated marketing at Coca-Cola. He lauded her "very strong reputation" throughout the world and noted her ability to understand different cultures and lead diverse groups of people.
Agency partners including Kevin Malloy, CEO-international at Starcom MediaVest Group, Coca-Cola's largest global media agency partner, are also applauding her leadership on the model, noting the potential for value-based compensation discussions to "flare up in a nasty way."
Mr. Malloy said implementation of the model has been smooth, thanks to Ms. Armstrong. "The easy way to do this is to flick it out there, and there are plenty of clients who would," he said. "The good thing about Sarah is, right from the word go, we discussed the fabric of how this thing should look."
Working collaboratively and learning to balance a demanding career with a personal life -- she's Mom to Grace, 6 -- is something Ms. Armstrong, 37, learned on the volleyball court, beginning with her days as a high-school star. She was recruited as a scholarship athlete to Georgetown University and started all four years. Ms. Armstrong now speaks to NCAA student-athletes about transitioning from school to a career.
"The work ethic of a student-athlete is something that you can't ever underestimate," she said. "You have to juggle multiple aspects of your life and perform at a high level in all of them. ... And in a team sport like volleyball, you can't be successful unless everyone is moving in the same direction."
If speaking out on value-based compensation is what it takes to get the advertising industry moving in the same direction, Ms. Armstrong is happy to do her part. "I'm comfortable with the fact that the industry needs a company and an individual to point to, to say they're talking about this," she said. "In this instance, if that's me, I'm absolutely comfortable playing that role, because I think we have a really compelling story to tell about where we've been and where we're trying to take this."