We're excited to connect with our alumni through our Darlington Connects series. Today, we hear from Robert Gaffney (’07, LD ’23), corporate director of supply chain strategy and planning for Coca-Cola Bottling Co. UNITED and recent participant in Leadership Darlington.
Robert Gaffney (’07, LD ’23) credits his Darlington experience for building his work ethic but said, “it took me getting into the real world to reflect on Darlington and appreciate how rare the opportunity for exposure is.”
Robert enrolled at Darlington in sixth grade in 2000. “I was a seven-year day student and commuted from Acworth," he said. "Being a day student living an hour away and playing multiple sports, I had to develop time-management skills at an early age. Admittedly, I lost some of that when I got to college initially, but my experience commuting to Rome every day and making the time to do homework helped build my base work ethic.”
When asked about memories of his favorite teachers and coaches, Robert had a few to share. One impressionable teacher was Kay Lowe. “I took an AP Spanish language class with her, and she made the class engaging and prepared us for the AP exam in a way that made it much less intimidating," he said. "She was a vibrant teacher that I am so glad I was able to learn from.” Robert also experienced a couple of coach and teacher combinations that helped reinforce the balance between athletics and academics. “Randy Smith and Mitch Jordan both helped me have a high expectation of learning in the classroom and in each sport they coached me," he said.
After Darlington, Robert attended Virginia Tech. “The transition from Darlington to college was difficult for me because of how much freedom I had," he said. "What I thought I wanted to study ended up not being a fit for me, and it took me having to take some time off from school to find out what I wanted to do and to re-establish my professional drive.” He graduated with a degree in Applied Economic Management from Virginia Tech with a minor in Spanish.
After graduation in 2012, Robert joined Coca-Cola Bottling Co. UNITED as a warehouse analyst. He spent the first two years working on a variety of corporate warehouse projects, as well as a Warehouse Management Systems pilot. He then supported a five-year merger and acquisition activity and was recently named corporate director of supply chain strategy and planning. "Aside from being lucky, a critical factor in where I am today was my willingness to do work that no one else wanted, like travel and working off-hour shifts," he said. "Working early hours, late hours, and traveling 75% of the time allowed me the credibility to start leading a team, which led me to what I do today with supply chain strategy.”
Darlington has had a lasting personal impact on Robert. Several close friends, Matt Doerner (’07), Ross Langley (’07), Douglas Mackimm (’08) and Danny Smith (’07) were in his wedding to wife, Elizabeth, and Douglas is godfather to Robert’s daughter, Adelaide.
Robert participated in Leadership Darlington in 2023. “It was great to get the chance to come back to campus,” he said. During the program, Robert reconnected with Randy Smith, “which was such a great surprise," he said.
When asked for advice, Robert shared, “Getting that first job out of school can be difficult, so rely on your network to help establish yourself.”
Robert would love to connect with anyone in the Darlington Community who wants to learn more about his network and career path. If you would like to connect with Robert, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you a member of the Darlington Community (or do you know one) with an interesting career or community involvement? We'd love to spotlight you in a future blog! Please email email@example.com if you are interested in being featured.