PepsiCo: Four decades of sustained investment in Ireland

PepsiCo: Four decades of sustained investment in Ireland
Cliona Murphy, vice-president of quality assurance at PepsiCo and site lead for the R&D centre in Ireland.

We talk to Cliona Murphy, vice-president of quality assurance at PepsiCo and site lead for the company’s research and development centre in Ireland.

Food and beverage company, PepsiCo has been operating successfully in Ireland since 1974, and has grown to now employ over 1000 people across its sites in Cork and Dublin.

The company, who generated more than $64 billion in net revenue in 2018, has a portfolio including brands such as Walkers, Pepsi-Cola, 7UP, Quaker and Tropicana.

In terms of its activities, personnel and its strategic role, how has the company evolved during its 45-year history in Ireland?

“From humble beginnings of 30 people we now employ over 1,000 people across Ireland as our operations here have grown.

“Specifically, in my field, our R&D centre has grown from 10 people back in 2007 to over 100 today.

"We employ scientists and engineers, who are researching new areas of science in partnership with universities in Ireland and across Europe.

"Our team also includes product developers who are delivering new products to markets and we have multiple teams working on delivering technical insights, digital solutions and compliance.”

What are the principles which have helped PepsiCo Ireland develop a reputation as such a popular place to work? Is the company committed to personal development of employees?

“Last year under our new CEO, Ramon Laguarta, the company set out our new vision: to be the leader in convenient food and beverages by winning with purpose.

"A key enabler of this strategy is our culture, known as The PepsiCo Way, which defines how we want to be as a company including a clear commitment to Raise the Bar on Talent.

“We have always recognised that people are our most important asset and we focus on finding the right people, on boarding them well into the organisation and developing them through coaching on the job, providing critical experiences and training and creating an enjoyable and rewarding work environment.

“PepsiCo is a very dynamic company and there has been a lot of investment in Ireland over the years to add new manufacturing and R&D capability to deliver on the business strategy.

"People see how what they do links directly to the company’s strategy and that that there are opportunities for them to grow and develop.

We have invested a lot in training, both in our management skills and also in supporting our people with their ongoing technical training, including developing our own internal University.

"In Cork we run one of PepsiCo University’s largest colleges — the global quality and food safety.

“In R&D we have a global rotation programme where employees get to work in different R&D centres and we have had exchanges with team’s based in the US and Russia.

"We also have responded to the needs to our workforce, introducing flexible working policies and offering healthcare checks and other benefits.

“We also believe in taking time to Celebrate Success with a recently refreshed awards and rewards programme in Ireland.”

Given the global consumer focus on environmental impacts, can you outline the Irish operation’s role in PepsiCo’s commitments to sustainability, efficiency and lean practices?

“This is a key pillar of our Winning with Purpose strategy and an area where PepsiCo is actively working to build a sustainable food system from the crops that our farmers grow to the finished packaged product on shelf.

“We are working to a target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions across PepsiCo’s value chain by 20% by 2030 and improve our water efficiency in our own operations by 25%.

“This extends to our manufacturing sites in Cork and in 2019 we were recognised by the American Chamber for our efforts in this area with the ‘Créafóg’ award for demonstrating exemplary commitment and real excellence in sustainability and environmental awareness.

Dr Jan Weststrate, Senior Vice President Nutrition R&D, PepsiCo Cliona Murphy, Vice President Research & Development, PepsiCo and Cork R&D site lead and Simon Coveney TD at the official opening of New PepsiCo R&D Nutrition Centre in Little Island, Cork in 2017. Picture: Darragh Kane
Dr Jan Weststrate, Senior Vice President Nutrition R&D, PepsiCo Cliona Murphy, Vice President Research & Development, PepsiCo and Cork R&D site lead and Simon Coveney TD at the official opening of New PepsiCo R&D Nutrition Centre in Little Island, Cork in 2017. Picture: Darragh Kane

“We also have a packaging laboratory in the R&D centre which is key to delivering on our packaging sustainability vision to build a world where plastic need never become waste by reducing the plastic we use, recycling more and reinventing our packaging.

"In Cork we are involved in helping to meet the goal to reduce virgin plastic by 35% in our beverages packaging by 2025.”

How does the company in Ireland rate versus the company globally in terms of skills, from manufacturing through to evolving areas like automation and data analytics?

“We have a great team in Ireland who can really get things done. That includes strong engineers and scientists who can solve challenging problems and deliver on commitments. Our company recognizes the strength of Ireland’s talent pool through its continued investment in the country.”

How does the company engage with its communities in Ireland and across the globe?

“In Ireland, one of our strongest areas of community engagement is in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

"It is estimated that over 80% of jobs in the future will require STEM skills and so it is critical that we help educate young people about the exciting career opportunities that exist.

"In 2019 we had over 125 STEM ambassadors engage with over 3600 1st, 2nd and 3rd level students delivering training in classrooms, providing experiential workshops, mentoring students and supporting iWish at Cork City Hall.

We have had tremendous feedback from our employees who are highly engaged and energised from such community engagement and from the students with whom we interact.

“PepsiCo’s Winning with Purpose strategy includes a strong focus on women’s advancement and empowerment.

"We are a platinum sponsor of Million Women Mentors (MWM), a global movement to provide mentors to young women to inspire and motivate them to study and have a career in STEM.

"Ireland has a very active MWM chapter with students from UCC and CIT benefiting from having a PepsiCo mentor to guide and advise them as they pursue their studies.

“PepsiCo is also committed to helping enhance and positively impact the lives of those in our local communities and, through our ‘Do Some Good’ week launched in 2019, we saw 300 employees engaged in volunteering activities through seven partners.”

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