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Immigrants Of The Week: Muhtar Kent, Eric Kandel, Louise Bourgeois, Oscar De La Renta, And Lucette Lagnado

by Greg Siskind

Editor's note: Here are some entries from Greg Siskind's blog.


CEO week continues here at Immigrant of the Day. Earlier in the week, Coca Cola announced that it was replacing Irish-born E. Neville Isdelle as Chief Executive Officer with American-born Muhtar Kent. When I read Mr. Kent's biography however, something struck me as odd. Mr. Kent only lived in the US for a few years and was raised in Turkey. He was educated in Europe and is said to be a dual US-Turkish national. But presumably, he's not an immigrant because he was born in the US, right?

Actually, that's very likely not the case in Mr. Kent's situation. You see, his father was the Turkish Consul-General in New York at the time he was born. And children of diplomats do not attain birthright citizenship as is the case with 99.9999% of other children of immigrants born in this country. I cannot say with absolute certainty that Mr. Kent is a naturalized citizen of the US, the odds are extremely high that he is.

Mr. Kent began his career at Coca Cola in the US as a young man, was transferred back to Turkey to run Coca Cola's operations there in 1985 and was promoted to higher positions until he left the company in 1999 as its vice president of international operations. He headed up a Turkish beverage company for the next few years and then rejoined Coca Cola in 2005 and has overseen Coke's non-US operations for the past two years. Coke announced this week that Kent will become the company's leader on July 1, 2008.

Interestingly, Mr. Kent's father Necdet Kent is known as the Turkish Oskar Schindler for helping to rescue dozens of Jews from Nazi persecution.