Discovering What Pepsi is About: Performance with Purpose

THINK Pepsi and you also think of other companies in the beverage space, outdoing each other for the ‘share of throat’. But this should not just be the only top of mind when one thinks of Pepsi, at least as what can be gleaned from Pepsi Cola Products Philippines Inc. (PCPPI) President Furqan Ahmed Syed.

More than the cola wars, Pepsi is about something else, especially for a leader whose vision is to diversify, spur innovation and create impact by doing business that is inextricably hinged on performance with purpose; and more than just being a company that sees business potential and headroom for growth to win the ever-competitive and fast-evolving food and beverage landscape.

But, really, how does one lead in this era of constant change? Syed sees it as a question that encompasses not just people at the helm of PCPPI, but all organizations the world over. What he sees is a certain level of uncertainty and volatility, which corporations of the future would have to embrace—instead of resist—as a reality, and see what adjustments they need to make in the future.

PCPPI responds to that by evolving its products into a next-generation portfolio, and entering product categories that, may likely become categories of the future. PCPPI has a competitive advantage of having an already diverse portfolio of food and beverage products, which have become household names in their own right, just like the company’s flagship drink Pepsi. Gatorade, Mountain Dew, Lipton Ice tea, Cheetos, Lays, Quaker Good Start and Lets Be Coffee—the list goes on as PCPPI continues to innovate, and plan ahead to secure its sustainable growth in the coming years.

“Our job is to provide consumers with a diverse portfolio of products to choose from,” Syed said. “Ultimately the consumers are the ones who decide what and how much they want to consume…and our endeavour is to provide them with exciting choices.”

Recently, International Association of Business Communicators feted Syed as one of the awardees at CEO Excel Awards not just for his maverick approach to business and his penchant for innovation and disruption, but for steering his organization toward a corporate progress pivoted on nation-building, which aligns with what Pepsi stands for.

“I’ve been with the Pepsi system for over 15 years and I show up to work every day as if it’s my first day of the job,” Syed relates. “I see my personal values to be very close to Pepsi values because Pepsi is not just about delivering business results; there’s so much more to it as a business organization.”

More than anything, Pepsi believes that business success is equated to how much it has contributed to the world, which means its business goals and purpose goals are in line  with improving many aspects of the communities that it operates in. According to Syed, it is performance with purpose, something that’s taken very seriously instead of being a mere add-on.

Epitomizing this is PCPPI’s signature corporate social responsibility agenda “Tayo Na” (Talino, Asenso, Yaman and Oras), an encompassing program that delves into different platforms to exact change in areas of health, livelihood, environment and volunteerism.

As PCPPI is a food and beverage company, the “Talino” arm works with primary schools (where kids underperform because of underlying poor nutrition) to provide children nutrition solutions to help them gain weight which has been found to have a strong correlation with the performance of those children in school. As a result of this program over 90% children gain weight and are able to improve their performance in school.

“Asenso,” meanwhile, creates multi-faceted livelihood for people, providing Filipinos direct employment opportunities in PCPPI’s business associates and partners. PCPPI has two major shareholders: PepsiCo and Lotte Corp., large international companies that, through their elaborate portfolios of food and beverages, epitomize global expertise and best practices to support these entrepeneurs.

Pepsi is a great believer in Filipino ingenuity and talent. Add all of its portfolios and global expertise to the brew and the combination is one of the hallmarks of its success in the Philippines.

“There are certain exemplary traits Filipino talent has, which makes one so much more passionate to do business in the Philippines. I always tell our associates that, amongst all the markets that I (have) visited or worked in, the Philippines ranks number one in Passion,” Syed said. “Everything they do, they do it with a lot of pride, which always adds to what you can deliver. Business performance is so much about how motivated and energized your people are to be part of the mission.”

On the top of it all, Pepsi works with small and medium enterprises and independent entrepreneurs whom it helps set up distribution businesses and leverages on sari-sari stores, an integral part of Filipino community, with Liquid Refreshment beverages contributing over 30 percent of their income.

Pepsi also have initiatives on water conservation. With its “Yaman” mantra, it constantly works on reducing water consumption within its own facilities by improving its efficiency in usage. To date, Pepsi has reduced its water consumption by 25 percent in the last two years.

“Oras” stands for Pepsi’s time for volunteerism, which it channels to various areas. Pepsi, through its winning Liter of Light project, worked in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan and continues to illuminate houses that do not have access to power. Thus far, Pepsi has already lit up close to 100,000 houses, installing battery-operated solar LED-lights, encased in reused Pepsi bottles for added durability.

“That is what makes me really proud that I work for a company that is not just about business, but also about something else,” Syed said, “a company that is about a strong Purpose, and that is in line with my personal ambitions.”

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