Article: Innovation is the bedrock of things that PepsiCo drives in HR


Innovation is the bedrock of things that PepsiCo drives in HR

Cynthia Trudell, EVP, HR & CHRO – PepsiCo on innovation, leadership model, learnings from India region and more
Innovation is the bedrock of things that PepsiCo drives in HR

PepsiCo is shoring up its learning processes with increased focus on developing leaders and employees in areas of digital skills, agile thinking and skills to operate in a global environment


Q. How innovative is PepsiCo as a company and how does the organization support innovation among its people? Are there any region-specific learnings on innovation that Indian operations at PepsiCo can learn from its global operations and vice-versa?

A. Innovation is at PepsiCo’s heart and it is an integral part of our product portfolio. Look at India region where we have beverage innovations for local tastes like Pepsi Atom, Tropicana coconut blends and snacks like Kurkure range and Quaker Nutri Poha & Nutri Upma.

In terms of people practices, while we do emphasize on innovations, we also give equal focus and importance to adoption of best practices across geographies. Let me illustrate it with some examples of our HR core processes in India that are now best practices. PepsiCo globally gives a lot of emphasis on manager quality and the institutionalization of Manager Quality Performance Index (MQPI) in India is a best practice that is now being replicated globally. Similarly our initiative- ‘ICARE’ (Include, Coach, Appreciate, Respect, Empathize) is now a best practice that has the potential of being adopted within the PepsiCo global system. The underlying belief is that by exhibiting ICARE behaviors, a manager will be able to inspire team members to deliver bigger, better and faster results.

Keeping true to our philosophy of attracting best talents, we have implemented an IT-enabled world class recruitment management system. This system is a one-stop shop for the entire candidate management experience, including linkage to job portals and agency portals. Therefore, innovation lies in most of the things that we drive in HR. Being a global HR team, we believe in best practice sharing and we have Talent Sustainability Teams where HR employees across sectors work for various projects.

We have observed trends in learning process of employees and have made huge progress in creating online training process under the global umbrella of PepsiCo University….this has functional and leadership courses across the functional domains and can match any international curriculum.

Q. What are the key parameters that define leadership at PepsiCo? What are some of the processes and initiatives the company has put in place to groom future leaders?

A. PepsiCo globally follows a robust leadership and individual effectiveness model that works as a beacon for all our leadership development interventions in terms of key competencies and associated behaviors, which are espoused by all our associates to meet our performance goals. It is designed to reinforce our inclusive and value-based culture and our focus on excellence and results.

Important pillars and imperatives on which leadership is built upon are individual’s ability to “Set the agenda”, “Take others along” and “Do things in the right way”. Our holistic approach towards leadership and career progression is governed by demonstration of results, functional excellence, leadership capability and knowing the business and gaining relevant critical experiences. PepsiCo India has over a period of time built a very strong pipeline by giving people a mix of different critical experiences within PepsiCo India and internationally and continues to do so.

Accelerated leadership development programs customized for the regions are the medium practiced by us to develop and groom internal leaders at all levels. These development programs, known as Academies, are created and conceptualized with the help of top management Institutes and consultants to ensure best in class learning.

With regard to other learning and development opportunities, we are working towards integrating our learning processes globally and provide employees with high-end development opportunities in line with the business realities. These programs shall be aimed at honing up employees skills that will set them up for future success. Focus would be to develop leaders and employees at large in areas of digital skills, agile thinking and skills to operate in global environment.

Q. What makes the Asia Pacific talent market unique? What are some of the key points of similarities and differences between aspects of talent management in this region compared to the West?

A. Asia, Middle East & Africa (AMEA), the sector that India is a part of, is represented by the most diverse set of markets in the world. India is a great crucible to learn and develop cross cultural thinking since each region is like a different country with its own language, cultural identity, food and habits. With a median age of 28, the country offers immense opportunities for young Gen Y graduates. While the need for education has emerged as one of the key drivers of this growth, there is a huge skill gap that needs to be bridged for India to fully leverage the power of its unique demographic dividend.

We are currently leveraging several agencies working in line with government policies to mobilize talent at the grassroots and make them PepsiCo ready. Project Funnel is our program at India region to proactively bridge the potential talent gap at front line.

Q. As a global company spread across different regions with diversity in cultures, processes and regulations, how does the company manage a unified face of HR? Or does the HR in different regions operate independently?

A. It is a one PepsiCo HR team for us. In today’s virtual world, distances are not that much of a concern. Our BIS (Business Information Service) team has worked significantly to enable regions and offices integrated through tele presence meeting rooms, web casts and other virtual medium.

We are constantly in touch with each other transcending boundaries. For example, at AMEA sector level, we made Talent Sustainability Teams on various important elements of HR functioning. These teams had representation of HR managers from different countries and they regularly meet through web-based tools. These teams have been successful in drawing best practices from different countries and suggest integrated and common processes for the whole sector. We are quite excited about achievements of these Talent Sustainability Teams, which has brought people together and a distinct change in the way we operate and bond.

Q. What is the structure of the HR department at PepsiCo? What is the level of centralization and decentralization? What decisions do the talent management teams in different regions have the flexibility to take on their own and which decisions are driven from the centre?

A. Our values promote delivery of sustained growth through empowered people acting with responsibility and building trust and we abide by this culture. It is not possible for any global organization to work efficiently and effectively without empowering people at local levels. Structures in the organizations are enablers in decision making and that’s what we follow and practice.

One of our guiding principles is diversity and inclusion, which rests heavily on collaborative efforts. Teams take decisions in a very collaborative manner and we ensure enough communication amongst managers to keep everyone concerned on a common grid. I believe that the current business world one can’t be effective and agile by creating structures, which impair swift decision-making.

We, as an organization, are at different stages of evolution in different countries or regions. Hence, structures are based on the need of delivering business results. Nonetheless, our approach across all the geographical locations is very much global and integrated.

Q. PepsiCo promotes diversity and actively demonstrates its commitment to developing women leaders within the company. What are the key diversity challenges that the organization faces? What are some of the most important initiatives to meet its long-term diversity objectives?

A. At PepsiCo, we have unique and talented individuals who represent a variety of cultures and backgrounds. Our diversity is one of our core strengths and a competitive business advantage. We are committed to foster and value a diverse and inclusive work environment — one that allows each and every one of our employees to achieve professional growth and fulfilment in all they do.

Challenges with regard to diversity differs from geography to geography, in certain parts of the world if there is an issue of mindset in certain other areas you may find concerns around infrastructure. In our case, our regional teams work closely with the businesses and local forums to overcome these issues.

As part of this commitment, in India, we now have a cross-functional Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Council that has been actively working on creating a more diverse and inclusive work environment, with a holistic focus on building infrastructure, talent acquisition retention and more importantly building an inclusive culture to not only increase gender diversity but also a gender intelligent organization.

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Topics: Leadership, Skilling, #HRInsights, #BestPractices

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