Company more than just soda, VP says

PepsiCo’s Performance with Purpose strategy has made them more than just a soda and chip company, the company’s vice president of human resources told Neeley students Tuesday.Ron Parker, TCU graduate and 24-year PepsiCo veteran, said one of the company’s greatest skills is its “intellectual agility,” that is, its ability to adapt to changing market trends to improve performance.

“It has allowed us to go from a soft drink company, to a total beverage company, to a full food and beverage company,” Parker said. “That’s how we transformed ourselves.”

PepsiCo has transformed itself by acquiring new, healthier products such as Naked Juice and Izze, healthy juice-based drinks. Parker said this is not just to feed market demand for healthy products, but to promote healthy lifestyles. The company has also reached out to health-conscious consumers by exercising portion control in its packaging.

Further, Parker said, PepsiCo has partnered with organizations such as YMCA and America On the Move Foundation to encourage exercise and has lobbied on Capitol Hill to promote teaching physical education in schools.

“You have to look beyond the (profit and loss) of your organization and become citizens of the world,” Parker said.

The company is becoming increasingly environmentally conscious by working to make biodegradable chip bags and bottles, Parker said, and by improving its water and energy productivity.

Parker said in the last 10 years, PepsiCo has cut down on its water use by 27 percent and its electric use by 21 percent.

An important part of PepsiCo is its diversity and talent sustainability, Parker said, which is why the company spends time speaking at universities around the country. PepsiCo’s senior management is mostly made up of employees promoted from within, Parker said, which is evidence of the company’s commitment to finding the next generation of talent and sustaining that by keeping those employees within the company.

Meredith Alariz, an MBA student, said she was impressed with the way Parker presented the culture of PepsiCo.

“I think overall PepsiCo is a company that really reflects the important needs of society and they’re working very hard to invest in people,” Alariz said.

Ed Riefenstahl, MBA experimental learning director and Neeley Speaker Series coordinator, said having someone insightful and passionate about his experience such as Parker come back is part of his message.

“After seven or eight moves, the value of the university experience overall that he had and shared in his four years at TCU made him want to continue to come back, reach out help others and share the benefit of being a part of that institution,” Riefenstahl said.