Founding Partner • Cordova, Smart & Williams LLC • New York, N.Y.
The adage, “If it is to be, it’s up to me,” sums up Joli C. Cooper’s approach to life. “Regardless of the doors that may be opened or the assistance you may receive, at the end of the day, the buck stops with you. And you’re either doing it or you’re not,” declares Cooper, daughter of a decorated United States Marine Corps General.
Clearly, Cooper is “doing it.” She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Notre Dame University, a M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and an impressive track record of business accomplishments in the food and beverage industry both in the United States and overseas. Over the course of her 25-year career in domestic and international operations in this industry, she has masterminded successful business turnarounds, mergers and acquisitions and negotiated million-dollar transactions.
She was senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Vitality Foodservice Inc. and a member of Tropicana Prod-ucts/Joseph E. Seagram’s team responsible for reengineering global marketing processes and oversaw marketing for the firm’s Latin American and Caribbean business units. She also held various management positions at Nestle USA. Throughout the years, she took on assignments in Central and Latin America, Canada, the Caribbean and the United Kingdom.
In 2003, Cooper co-founded Cordova, Smart & Williams LLC, a New York private equity investment firm specializing in buyouts, recapitalizations and growth capital financings in middle market companies. Working outside her comfort zone is the secret to her professional success, she says. “The quickest way to get ahead is to push yourself there,” she says.
Cooper has been quoted in numerous publications and featured on the covers of Beverage Industry and Working Mother magazines. She is the recipient of the 2002 “Wharton Alumnae of the Year” award and the 1996 Girls Inc. “Woman of the Year” award and is a board member of Berkshire Blanket, Sqwincher Corp., Eateries, Inc., The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Tampa Bay, The Children’s Home Inc., Junior Achievement, Notre Dame Club of Greater Tampa and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School Alumnae Board.