Elaine Karabatsos and Chris Painter - The Coca Cola Company

In an industry in which the sky is the limit, Chris Painter ’05 ’07 and Elaine Karabatsos ’90 arrived at the same destination – The Coca Cola Company.

As the Manager of Technical Operations for The Coca-Cola Company, Chris is responsible for leading a team of eight associates supporting five aircrafts, operating globally for the Company. Elaine works on his team as an Aircraft Manager, responsible for the maintenance of the corporate fleet and safely preparing those aircrafts for departure.

“It is such a small world,” says Elaine. “It blows my mind that two alumni from the same school would end up working together, especially in another state.”

Elaine received a job with The Coca-Cola Company in 1992, after working for Rusk Aviation for about one year after graduating with an associate’s degree in Aviation Maintenance. Chris graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2005 and continued on the fast-track to receive his MBA in 2007.

Elaine had already been working in Atlanta for quite some time when Chris joined the company in 2012. “We were comparing notes shortly after I started working, when we realized that we both graduated from Lewis University,” says Chris.

Both working in a highly successful team, Elaine and Chris attribute much of their success to Lewis University. Growing up as a tomboy, unafraid to get some dirt under her fingernails, Elaine felt inspired to work in the aviation industry from a very young age. It was not an easy journey, though.

“It has been a very eye-opening career filled with unique experiences,” she says with a smile. “My family wanted me to go to school for a more female-oriented career, because a woman working in the aviation industry was just unheard of. With a lot of hard work and determination, I can now say I have accomplished something that only one percent of women have accomplished.”

Making lifelong friends and important professional contacts, Elaine loved every minute of her college experience. “Lewis is known to have an elite aviation program, and the fact that I can say I went there and put it in writing is a huge accomplishment,” Elaine adds.

Now, she is even more delighted to be working for such a pronounced company such as The Coca-Cola Company alongside Chris.

Chris has over 20 years of business aviation maintenance management experience supporting flight operations at three Fortune 100 companies. Prior to joining The Coca-Cola Company, he held the roles of Director of Aviation Maintenance for Johnson Controls in Milwaukee and Chief of Maintenance for ConAgra Foods in West Chicago. Able to balance school life, a full-time job and a family, Chris is grateful for the opportunities that Lewis provided to him so that he was capable of landing this position right after graduating with his MBA. Chris finds that he relies much more in his business education rather than his aviation education in his current role. 

“I found that my business education from Lewis was key in my career,” says Chris. “It taught me how to successfully manage a group of people, which is a huge part of what I do at The Coca-Cola Company.”

Although Chris and Elaine did not attend Lewis together, graduating from the university did teach them both a valuable lesson: to never discount the power of a relationship.

“You never know where you will end up, or who you will be working with,” says Chris. “Learn to work well with others toward a common goal, whether it is a group project for class or a team assignment at work. It goes a long way.”

Elaine established some fundamental relationships and met some great people during her journey. “Never give up; the sky is the limit!”

Located in Atlanta, Georgia, The Coca-Cola Company has been “sharing happiness” for 130 years and serves over 200 countries around the world. It is a premiere company in the flight department, making it into the top ten. 

“Coca-Cola is a name that everybody knows,” says Chris. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with the best of the best. We are lucky enough to work with the best people, equipment, and business partners.”

August 2016

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