What It's Like to Work at PepsiCo

As one of the world's 50 most admired companies, according to Fortune magazine, PepsiCo Inc. inhabits a rarefied place within corporate America. And landing a job there is, for many, the ultimate career achievement.

The iconic brand, which is second only to rival Coca-Cola Co. in soft-drink sales, recently has sought to refashion its image. Under the leadership of Indra Nooyi, its first female CEO, the Purchase, N.Y.-based company has sought to "green up" its business practices and appeal to a more diverse range of consumers and potential employees.

Beyond soft drinks, the company also sells Tropicana juice, Frito-Lay brand snacks, Quaker oatmeal and other food products. It had combined sales of nearly $58 billion last year and employs about 294,000 workers worldwide.


PepsiCo's Pace

So what's it like to work there? Despite its size, Pepsi remains a fast-paced and innovative place to work, says Lesley Butler, senior marketing manager for Tropicana.

"I don't feel like I'm in this huge, huge company," says Butler, 30, who joined PepsiCo six months ago from Bain & Co., where was a strategy consultant in the consumer packaged goods industry. "I really like that aspect."

Though she's only been at PepsiCo a short time, the Harvard Business School graduate says she's been there long enough to witness a shift in the company's strategy, embracing a wider world view, which includes the creation late last year of its global nutrition group.

The objective of GNG, as it's known within PepsiCo, is to boost sales of the company's nutrition brands to $30 billion annually by 2020, from its current $13 billion a year.

PepsiCo's nutrition brands include Tropicana and 26 other juice brands worldwide, and it's Butler's job to help grow the business -- in part by understanding how people the world over consume juice.

That includes time spent overseas, including a recent trip to China, to learn about the unique tastes of people worldwide. One difference that she noted from past trips is that juice isn't a common component of breakfast, unlike in the U.S.

Many cultures don't include a cold beverage with their first meal of the day, says Butler, preferring to serve it later in the afternoon.


PepsiCo's People

A number of characteristics stand out when it comes to describing PepsiCo's culture, Butler says, including the enthusiasm that many coworkers bring to the job. "They are so passionate about their brands and their consumers," she says. "That is really infectious and something that is very motivating for me."

job interview That perception is familiar to Michael Hamilton, another recent hire at PepsiCo, who joined the company 10 months ago as a category manager for beverages. In that role, Hamilton, 30, makes the most of shelf space by examining sales, volume and consumer preferences, which vary from store to store.

Hamilton's territory includes about 700 stores throughout Texas. He is based in Plano, where the company's Frito-Lay unit is based. Hamilton landed his job with PepsiCo through Cameron-Brooks, a placement agency that works with junior military officers to find work in the civilian sector.


PepsiCo's Pluses

Hamilton, a West Point graduate and Army pilot who saw two tours in Iraq, says he enjoys his job because it allows him to use analytical and other skills honed during his military career.

But at PepsiCo there's more variety, says Hamilton, who's married and has an infant daughter. "Everyday, it's a new role."

Further, Hamilton says that he's learning a lot about the business world, equating the knowledge he's gained as equivalent to a "miniature MBA."

"Especially for me, leaving the military, not knowing a tremendous amount about business -- I think PepsiCo has done a great job with training," he says.


PepsiCo's Hiring Process

Though there are a number of qualities that PepsiCo looks for during the hiring process, a key one is the ability to quickly recognize potential to grow or improve the company's business.

"We look for people [who] are results-orientated," and who seek professional improvement daily, says Paul Marchand, vice president of global talent acquisition.

It's a quality he refers to as "seizing the day," and becomes apparent during interviews when applicants describe past achievements, including education, success in previous employment and personal experiences, such as athletic pursuits or, as in Hamilton's case, military service.

PepsiCo also looks for an "innovation mindset" that goes beyond products and packaging to include other areas of the business, including employee policies and benefits, logistics, workplace environment and more.

"We look for people who are inquisitive, are curious and are wanting to take a box and stretch it, twist it and turn it," he says, adding that Pepsi is eager to find employees who will rethink the company's processes and practices to help it improve.

Marchand says that PepsiCo also is committed to creating a diverse workplace, including enlisting the talents of disabled workers through an initiative known as EnAble, which seeks to recruit "people with different abilities," among other things (see the video below).




The company also was among the first corporate sponsors of LimeConnect, an organization that matches college-level and professional candidates who have disabilities with private employers. Google, Bank of America, Target and Goldman Sachs also sponsor the program.

LimeConnect's goal is to help workers with disabilities, such as those who are deaf or who have less obvious disabilities, such as attention deficit disorder, get jobs in corporate America, though it may not be a position with one of the sponsoring companies.

"It's a bonus if they do," Marchand says. "But the reality is that we're doing good for the broader society, if many of these students get jobs with other companies or continue on with [higher] education."


Next: What It's Like to Work at Coca Cola

Stories from CNN Money


David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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Jayson Cas

Are there also any internship opportunities in Shanghai?

July 07 2011 at 11:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
antsy2010

i guess you havent worked at the oklahoma warehouse then ,,,what a joke

July 04 2011 at 5:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gregfelise

i worked for them... HORRIBLE !!!!
they'd F**K their mom for a dollar...
nobody could work hard-enough for them...
IM DRINKING COKE !!!

July 04 2011 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kitykave

Agree, one sided journalism at best. Very familiar with the poor management associated within the Conway, SC location. Does not sound anything like the article above. Long hours for drivers who are obviously exhausted, some go in as early as 5am and work well into the evenings. 5-6 days a week! Employees are talked down to and humiliated in front of other coworker while leadership I praised for this strong behavior. But I assume these front line employees keep silent so they can feed their families. What a shame this article is.

July 04 2011 at 9:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chauncey wether

article by schlepp insulting shill piece... he obviously ignored blue collar caste system employed by pepsi. i worked at pepsi 4 years and observed it is only good for management. sclepp should interview some men in the field who do the arduous physical work at embarrassingly nominal wages... oh, but that would require some journalistic integrity..... never mind!

July 04 2011 at 8:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pvsj

My uncle worked there for years. He was very productive, The second he got sick he was out. Don't get sick.

July 04 2011 at 7:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LittleZachiii

Nooyi and girls with degrees- how wonderful to read a story with such mush. They have tromped
and stomped the longtime employees who made Pepsi possible over the years. Maybe they
have taken to much philosophy from the worst OJ drink on the market , Topicana - bad company, bad
drink and bad image since the days of Anta Bryant. They want to take this philosophy world wide ???
Guess this is the only way they can sustain themselves financially, so sad. Their latest snafu
was the idea of Pepsi Throwback. Insufficient production which took them so long to catch up that
the decades long pepsi holics finally gave up on the idea of satisfying that old pepsi refreshing taste.
Now they are on this huge campaign through any means possible to bolster their image with a huge
smoke screen at any cost - mostly the worker bees at low pay levels while the stiffs in the headquarters gain the pay. So many articles about diversity in their company it has made me boycott
their products for 2 years now. Good job Nooyi, you've succeeded in your personal goals at the expense of an American institution.

July 04 2011 at 7:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jan

worked for pepsi 30 years,had fun,made a lot of friends,good money,and good retirement pay. if you never worked for them you dont what the hell your talking about.

July 04 2011 at 7:15 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
memaw7824

A Harvard graduate and an ex-military pilot. I would say Pepsico was lucky to have both of them.

July 04 2011 at 6:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fritomn

This makes for a nice story....... by newbie employees..... like many of you have suggested ask longer term employees what they have to say ..... yes I am an ex-employee of FritoLay in the DFW area, which happens to be where the corporate offices are at..... In the mid-1990's I sold what was referred to as "The Worlds largest salsa and dip display", which was 22 pallets (24 are a full semi load) valued at $ 49,960.00 ...... corporate sent people out to build the display and would NOT allow me to give much input into it's appearence .... when done "they" took a picture of it and put it in their worldwide newsletter to all employees ....... seems strange they "forgot" to include me in the picture or the article, because they were to busy patting themselves on the back for a job well done by them.
Talk to salesmen who had been there for 10-15 years and hear them tell how they worked 40 hours a week and made $50,000.00 per year just so 15 years later they could work 50-60 hours per week and make $38-40,000.00 per year. Hear them tell about the founding and decades of high growth done by experienced and dedicated salesmen ..... Then listen to them fumble through how the new direction was turned to " girls with degrees" .....no grocery experience ...... no experience as a salesperson for FritoLay ....... some with no experience with any job before Frito-Lay ...... like I said...... "Girls with Degrees".
There was one woman that stood out though who ran one of the DFW devisions ...... a cute little redhead .... but she was smart, used her head and was dedicated to the company ......... so they used and abused her until she'd had enough, so she went to work for a competitor ... need I say more.
If interested in discussing this more in detail with me yes I'm still in the DFW area and a member of AOL.
take care and God bless,
Frit

July 04 2011 at 1:58 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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