Therese Gearhart recognized for business leadership

PAT FRIDGEN

A Greencastle native was recently featured in a Spanish business magazine for her rise to the top in an American company.

Therese Gearhart, general manager for Coca-Cola in Central America, was on the front cover of the November/December 2009 issue of Revista Mercados & Tendencias. She was pictured with Tanya Avellan, a native of Ecuador, who also holds a corporate position with the soft drink manufacturer. The author compared the leadership styles of both, with Gearhart 'the human leader' and Avellan 'the intellectual leader.' They were credited with aiding in the success of Coca-Cola, which showed gains in the market despite the recession, and which was undergoing a sustainability campaign to be more environmentally friendly in production.

Gearhart, the daughter of June and Esh Gearhart, graduated from Greencastle-Antrim High School in 1980. She was a decorated athlete in basketball and track. The first step along her career path took her to Orlando, Fl. in hopes of working at Disney World. That didn't pan out but she was hired by Sheraton and went to school at the University of Central Florida. She enrolled in the Thunderbird School of Management in Phoenix, Ariz. for a masters degree in international business. She advanced her studies of the Spanish language begun at G-AHS and added Japanese.

Gearhart's travels were just beginning. She turned down an offer by Black and Decker to work in Japan, but did go to Miami, Connecticut and Baltimore for them.

Then, as her mom said, "Motorola made her an offer she couldn't turn down."

Gearhart went back to Florida for several years for that company, then found her match with Coca-Cola. She went through a management training program, with job stints in Atlanta, Dallas and finally Costa Rica. She ascended through the ranks and today leads businesses in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, and Costa Rica, where she lives. She has been at her latest post for over three years.

"We're quite proud of her," said June Gearhart. "I told all of our children there's a whole big world out there for you. It's not going to come here. You have to go looking."

The other three also took her advice.

June and Esh, now retired in Chambersburg, recently returned from nearly a month-long visit to Costa Rica. They had intended to stay for two weeks, but watching the Pennsylvania winter from afar, decided to stretch out their vacation.

The family lived on Williamsport Pike when the Gearhart children were young.