I’m an unabashed Coca-Cola fan, the kind that brings his own Coke to Smith everyday so that I don’t have to drink the Pepsi from Rudy’s. That said, I’m now a big fan of Al Carey ‘74, CEO of PepsiCo Americas Beverages and Smith School alum.
On Tuesday Mr. Carey visited the Smith School for our CEO@Smith series, giving a truly stimulating speech about his career and some of the innovative leadership and sustainability programs he as implemented at PepsiCo and Frito-Lay. The presentation was eye-opening on many levels, but I personally was most impressed by his commitment to PepsiCo’s vision of “Performance with Purpose”.
PepsiCo’s commitment to their 4 P’s of Products, Partners, People and the Planet is very different than your standard 4 P’s of marketing. Mr. Carey focused the majority of his presentation of PepsiCo’s innovations in sustainability (Planet), including the revamp of their truck fleet and installation of energy and water saving equipment at their plants, as well as his insights into leadership (People). Here are some highlights and quotes that I found particularly enlightening:
- You can make healthier products without remaking the brand – In the context of Tostitos and other Frito-Lay products PepsiCo has made subtler improvements in the healthiness of their products, while learning that by not over-marketing these changes they can acquire new customers without alienating old ones.
- Servant leadership is about removing obstacles – Mr. Carey presented an inverted leadership structure in which executives were at the bottom of the pyramid, serving the rest of the organization in their goal of serving consumers.
- “The best leaders are optimistic leaders” – Mr. Carey’s affinity for the question “what do you think” and openness to creativity and the ideas of less experienced employees is really refreshing.
Altogether CEO@Smith was an excellent experience that left even this diehard Coke fan respecting the direction and leadership of PepsiCo.