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Alumnus, Coca-Cola executive Ben Deutsch to speak at December commencement

October 29, 2014 By Susannah Brooks

Growing up in Minnesota’s Iron Range, Ben Deutsch wanted to be a sportscaster — “the next Bob Costas.” After graduating from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he spent two years as a sports reporter at the Wisconsin State Journal.

When he decided to take a different path, his Wisconsin experience helped him each step of the way.

Photo: Ben Deutsch

Ben Deutsch

“This university means so much to me. It has everything to do with whatever kind of success I’ve had, personally and professionally,” says Deutsch. “What I learned at the J-school — the impact my professors had, the help they gave in building a network and getting my first job — stays with me today.”

Deutsch, now vice president for corporate communications at The Coca-Cola Company, will deliver the charge to graduates at UW–Madison’s Winter Commencement ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 21 at the Kohl Center. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and will last approximately two hours. Tickets are not required, and the ceremony is open to the public.

All students who completed a degree in summer 2014, or who will complete a degree in fall 2014, are welcome to participate in Winter Commencement, including bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degree candidates from all schools and colleges.

These days, Deutsch leads an Atlanta-based communications team with worldwide reach. In his current role at Coca-Cola, Deutsch is responsible for corporate media relations, global brand PR, social and digital communications, issues management, and internal and executive communications. He worked his way up after joining the company in 1993 as public relations manager for Coca-Cola USA.

A former chair of the Board of Visitors at UW–Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Deutsch serves on the boards of directors of Leadership Atlanta, which fosters service-driven leadership, and of Covenant House Georgia, which assists homeless youth. He also served as chair of the board of Special Olympics Georgia and serves on the organization’s Honorary Board.

Deutsch doesn’t mince words when describing the challenging environment faced by new graduates: a working world shaped by geopolitical, social and economic instability.

But the opportunities are “massive,” especially for those with a UW–Madison diploma in hand.

“Having a degree from UW means a lot to employers around the globe; it has a tremendous reputation,” says Deutsch. “When a UW graduate comes across our radar, people pay attention.”