After a high-profile, somewhat controversial international search, Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) has decided that its past is again its future, at least over the short term.

Neville Isdell, a citizen of Ireland, has spent much of his career with Coca-Cola, having joined the company in 1966 in its operations in Zambia. He became known at the company for his ability to enter into hostile new markets and establish beachheads for Coke products. He left the company in 1998 after former CEO Doug Ivester didn't elect to promote him to the No. 2 position, choosing instead to leave it empty.

He didn't stray far, though, sliding into the chairmanship at Coca-Cola Beverages, now part of Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (NYSE:CCH). Now he returns to the mother ship to take over for Douglas Daft, who has headed up a restructuring and a cultural shift in the entire time he's been at the helm. Isdell's close proximity to Coca-Cola proper means that he has deep understanding of the company. This will be a popular choice among some constituencies who watched with concern that Coke's worldwide search would end up bringing an outsider to the company, most notably Gillette (NYSE:G) CEO James Kilts, who took himself out of the running for the job.

The primary internal candidate for the top slot was current COO Steven Heyer, who is 51. Many believe that he will depart and look for a chief executive job elsewhere, but others think that he may wait out the string for Isdell. Coca-Cola maintains a retirement age at 65, which means that while Isdell may be an ideal short- and medium-term selection, his time in the CEO's office will necessarily include another search within the next two to three years.

For the time being, Isdell is coming back home, and while Coke under Doug Daft has answered some of the criticisms the company has faced in recent history, it is still very much a work in progress that Isdell will have to continue.

We invite you to take a free trial of our latest newsletter offering, Shannon Zimmerman's Champion Funds.

Bill Mann owns no shares in any companies mentioned in this story.