Want to Work for Pepsi? Here Are the Degrees You'll Need.
March 10, 2021
PepsiCo employees earn over $150,000 per year, on average, for director-level positions in IT, sales, marketing, strategy, and finance.
The orange juice in your refrigerator probably came from Pepsi. The oatmeal in your pantry? Probably Pepsi-backed too. In fact, from chips and coffee to cookies and cereal, the brand we equate with red, white, blue, and fizz is behind an enormous amount of the drinks and snacks we consume on a daily basis.
But what about its quintessential soda? That came from entrepreneur-type Caleb Bradham, who nicknamed the beverage “Brad’s Drink" after inventing its recipe at a North Caroline pharmacy in 1893. Bradham renamed his concoction Pepsi-Cola three years later and began bottling and marketing Pepsi under its present name in 1898. He founded the Pepsi-Cola Company in 1903.
Despite market expansion to pasta, dairy-based products, and even recently, kombucha, the brand’s core mission has always been to win the soda wars. In many ways, Pepsi—known these days as PepsiCo—is a quintessential “challenger brand," known for its century-and-counting battle against Coca Cola for the title of number one soft drink.
A mere seven years younger than Coke, PepsiCo emphasizes the youth of the “Pepsi Generation" as a means of turning its second-to-the-scene status into an advantage. For those working at the company’s Purchase, New York headquarters and offices in College Station, Texas, and Pennington, New Jersey, PepsiCo’s reputation as a challenger affords opportunities to reframe category norms, challenge convention, and move the brand forward.
These days, the company’s official mission is to “create more smiles with every sip and every bite." That holds true for PepsiCo employees, who have a wealth of free snacks and soft drinks to choose from on-campus. Other perks and benefits include comprehensive healthcare, 401k matching, and a tuition reimbursement program.
What’s more, PepsiCo’s commitment to supporting diversity and engagement is woven into a guiding philosophy that the company calls its “Winning with Purpose" vision. It’s one that PepsiCo has demonstrated in many ways, from establishing the Global Harvey C. Russell Inclusion Award, to raising funds for LGBT+ organizations across North America and Brazil, and formally pledging commitments around gender parity, pay equity, and prosperity for its employees.
In 2019, the Human Rights Campaign named PepsiCo among the best places to work for LGBTQ equality. The brand also made it to Fortune’s list of the world’s most admired companies, Universum’s top 50 most attractive employers, and Goalcast’s top 13 most ethical companies to work for in 2018.
PepsiCo describes its workplace culture as one that gives professionals the best of both worlds: an entrepreneur’s mindset plus reach and resources. Add in all those free snacks and beverages, and it’s awfully hard to turn down a career with a company that’s easily a household name on every continent. All PepsiCo asks is that you bring your unique perspective, curiosity, ingenuity, drive—and possibly a degree or two.
So Much More Than Cola: A Brief History of PepsiCo
Remember Caleb Bradham? After two decades of success selling his soda to pharmacies and other vendors across roughly half of the U.S., Bradham lost his trademarked creation when gambling on the fluctuations of sugar prices during World War I. They fell instead, forcing Pepsi-Cola to go bankrupt in 1923.
Pepsi-Cola was bought by the Loft Candy Co. President, Charles G. Guth, in 1931, who struggled to make a success of the brand during the throes of the Great Depression. After redesigning the Pepsi bottle and scoring a hit with a Pepsi-branded radio jingle, the drink’s popularity surged through World War II.
The company’s first ads appealing to young people called "the Pepsi Generation" arrived during the early 1960s, followed by Pepsi’s first diet soda in 1964. In 1965 PepsiCo, Inc. took shape through the merger of Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay Corporation.
"Pepsi Generation" ads continued to appeal to young consumers as the brand targeted older consumers with a series of "Pepsi Challenge" commercials and in-store tastings throughout the late 1970s and early '80s.
PepsiCo broke new ground in 1984 when it hired Michael Jackson as its spokesman, a move that would inspire the company to bring on a slew of celebrity endorsements throughout the decade and years to come.
Today, PepsiCo continues to diversify beyond what Caleb Bradham could ever have imagined by branching out into various markets through the Gatorade brand, Amp energy drinks, and Starbucks beverages.
The company employs 267,000 workers across offices, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and delivery services around the world. Today, PepsiCo is valued at an estimated at $198.2 billion.
Working at PepsiCo
PepsiCo’s employees work within teams across a range of departments, including fabrication and production, eCommerce, logistics distribution and supply chain, and sales. According to PayScale, employees at the company’s New York headquarters make an average salary of $90,000 per year.
_Some of the highest-paid jobs at PepsiCo include the following, listed by average base salary:_
- Vice President of Human Resources: $225,311
- Vice President of Sales: $216,047
- Senior Director of Brand Management: $202,000
- Audit Director: $195,000
- Senior Director of Marketing: $188,598
- IT Director: $175,763
- Sales Director: $168,078
- Strategy Director: $166,000
- Finance Director: $156,129
- Marketing Director: $147,733
Want to Work at PepsiCo? Here Are the Degrees You'll Need.
Visit PepsiCo’s careers site to find open positions in areas including design, finance, information technology (IT), and research and development.
Design jobs at PepsiCo
Pepsico’s design department has a saying: “We’re crazy enough to think we can inspire the future." It’s a notion that drives those in it to connect the company’s long list of beverage, snacks, and nutrition products with today’s hyper-connected users while shaping and growing some of the largest and most loved food brands in the world.
Current openings include opportunities in design and brand design management, senior design thinking and training management, industrial design, and customer team design.
Creatively driven job seekers interested in associate-level design roles with PepsiCo will need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design with a strong portfolio, as well as strategic thinking and project management skills. While this degree type is acceptable for a few managerial openings, a master’s degree in a design discipline preferred.
Senior managerial opportunities, like the company’s listing for a senior design thinking and training manager, notes a preference for candidates with advanced degrees like a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Design (MDes), Master of Fine Arts (MFA) or master’s in service design, design strategy, and design research.
Finance jobs at PepsiCo
Positions in this department span auditing, financial analytics, and risk management, among other specializations, and are charged with overseeing PepsiCo’s financial activities and investment decisions.
Candidates have a variety of opportunities in this realm, with listing for a senior financial analyst, control and reporting manager, financial planning and analysis manager, control and reporting director, and an associate manager of mergers and acquisitions.
Aspiring members of PepsiCo’s financial department will, in most cases, need a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or a related field with anywhere from two to ten years of experience in their field.
Some roles, like control and reporting manager, require candidates to hold licensure as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Others, like financial planning and analysis manager and associate manager of mergers and acquisitions, stress a preference for candidates with an MBA or an MBA with a finance concentration.
IT jobs at PepsiCo
In this realm, PepsiCo’s on the lookout for candidates to fill roles in a team known for creating the company’s IT strategy and delivering insights and capabilities that transform business. Here, PepsiCo lists openings that include a senior threat hunter, IT operations lead-executive support, a director of cloud engineering and delivery, a cyber security incident response handler, and a systems applications and products (SAP) IT functional specialist.
Cyber security-focused jobs with the brand generally tend to require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in IT or a related discipline, or equivalent work experience. Candidates with goals to become PepsiCo’s director of cloud engineering and delivery will need a bachelor's degree or higher in computer science, engineering or related field.
While some IT-focused jobs with the brand don’t highlight a degree requirement, some specialized roles do. PepsiCo’s (SAP) IT functional specialist opening is one example, requiring a bachelor’s degree and preferring a master’s degree in IT, data science, or a related field.
Research and development jobs at PepsiCo
This department keeps its eyes on all of PepsiCo’s activities to innovate and introduce new products and services, typically with the goal to take them to market and add to the company's bottom line. The company is currently adding to this team through openings in research and development project management, allied brands sales management, sustainability integration, and seasoning and flavor development.
With footing in both science and business, it’s common to find job listings that require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in fields like mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineering, information systems, or management.
Roles that prefer candidates with a graduate-level education include listings for an allied brands senior sales manager, a director of sustainability integration, and a principal scientist of seasoning and flavor research and development.
Within this group, job seekers will benefit from a range of advanced degrees, including an MBA, a master’s in sustainability, engineering or a related technical field, and a master’s in food science.
Internships at PepsiCo
PepsiCo’s internship program provides undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to leverage their academic understanding in a real-world, business-driven environment.
Opportunities are available in areas spanning food services sales, supply chain, and research and development, to eCommerce, HR, and brand design. In each, students build connections, pitch ideas, and take on challenging projects that help them grow personally and professionally.
Additionally, internships with PepsiCo fit into three paths: learn, develop, and grow, which are geared for students at different stages of their college and graduate experience. The “learn" and “develop" paths are ideal for current undergraduates and recent graduates alike, lending them the opportunity to work on projects while receiving coaching from experienced mentors.
PepsiCo’s “grow" path are most suitable for graduate students who aspire to lead projects and use their professional experience to become leaders. Interns within “grow"-oriented internships have the chance to put the power of PepsiCo’s global resources behind their ideas while learning to lead initiatives to create results.
Shape the Future of Food With PepsiCo
In a 2011 StartWire Q&A, Chris Hoyt, a former Talent Engagement and Marketing Leader with the company, notes that PepsiCo’s careers site allows job seekers to create automated searches that notify them of jobs based on their key interests or preferred work location. A helpful tool, especially as the brand’s job listings are based all over the world.
When applying to a job at PepsiCo, Hoyt says that his team works hard “to strike a balance between both traditional and progressive recruiting tactics, because we know that there is no cookie-cutter approach to recruiting for such a diverse stable of talent."
Hoyt also comments on candidates’ ability to catch his team’s attention, an aspect of talent acquisition that’s gotten easier with the company’s shift into social and mobile recruiting.
“While resumes are still important, they’re not necessarily what a recruiter is going to see first," he says. “Job seekers that manage their online footprint, how they are portrayed and how they’re engaged, on various social and professional networks like Twitter or LinkedIn could find it makes all the difference."
He also offers insight into job seekers’ tendency to make the wrong assumptions about PepsiCo’s hiring process. For the most part, these assumptions tend to focus on the belief that large companies don’t involve actual people on the other end of their application systems—and favor complete automation instead.
“While we do have a system that helps us to more quickly find qualified submissions, there is a real recruiting team at PepsiCo that wants nothing more than to find the best match for each job available," Hoyt adds. A well-constructed bio, resume, skillset— whether online or offline—still goes a long way."
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