James Thickett: PepsiCo Go Trendsetter Challenge

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From goji berries to street food, kimchi to the Paleo diet; when it comes to eating, snacking and drinking, predicting the next trend is big business.

The launch of the PepsiCo Go challenge aims to discover the next generation of international trendsetters.

PepsiCo Go is helping us attract fresh talent – those who could become leaders and spur innovation and business success for years to come. The program is designed to strengthen our talent base and build capabilities in critical areas such as Digital and Insights.

Strategic workforce planning highlighted that we needed to create a clearer talent pipeline for future leaders. We wanted to attract graduate talent to PepsiCo and develop them with a fast-track graduate scheme. This would allow them to have an impactful rotational learning experience, with accelerated career progression within our Insights & Digital departments.

We decided to assess graduate potential through an online gamification approach; asking graduates to spot future trends and share possible implications for the PepsiCo business.

The challenge was developed to assess candidates based on their potential; evaluating prospective competencies by allowing them to work alongside and be mentored by our business managers. Candidates were assessed over a process lasting 12 weeks, and by using a gamification approach, the experience was both innovative and fun for the millennial target group we were trying to attract.

The PepsiCo Go challenge also gave graduates an insight into life at PepsiCo, as we integrated them into our business for two days, giving them a real experience of our people and our culture.

The competition saw a significant response, having received over 680 applicants in just 4 weeks. The challenge was split into three stages, with the winner earning themselves a potential place on one of our prestigious graduate programmes.

The first online stage called for graduates to register, review the brief and then submit their proposal of what they thought the next big food or beverage trend would be, why they thought so, and how PepsiCo could take it to market. This could be through the creation of a new product or by adapting one of PepsiCo’s current lines.

During the second stage, mentors helped supercharge graduates’ thinking. Once an initial pool of ideas had been submitted, PepsiCo selected the most promising concepts. The chosen entrants were then given the chance to join an online mentoring portal, where they worked alongside a PepsiCo mentor to give them an opportunity to learn from them and create a more extensive business proposal.

The third stage saw the most elite candidates go forward to the grand finale, which took place across two days in PepsiCo’s UK office. A total of 30 graduates attended senior leader presentations, presented their business ideas to a PepsiCo panel, and were then interviewed.

An awards ceremony concluded the two days. PepsiCo decided to award four winners, as the quality of graduate business proposals was so high. Several graduates were offered positions within PepsiCo’s graduate programme, working within the Digital or Insights team.

The Insights graduate scheme is a three-year programme based in the UK working across three different but connected specialisms: Strategic Insights, Commercial Insights, and Analytic Insights for one year at a time.

The Digital graduate scheme is a one-year scheme based in France, Spain or the UK working across e-commerce, brand marketing and social media. Graduates will be given the opportunity to shape the future of the food and beverage industry, including influencing what, how and where consumers buy.

The commitment, passion and creativity demonstrated by the graduates, has been nothing less than impressive. The challenge has received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from both graduates and business managers alike. We look forward to welcoming our finalists to their graduate positions at PepsiCo.

To hear James Thickett and a range of other leading early careers professionals speak at our popular early careers event in July, find out more about our programme and tickets here.

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