Investing in the Science of People

Sergio Ezama
East Europe Human Resources Senior Vice President
PepsiCo, Europe

In our personal lives, whether it is our friends or spouse or kids, we all know that relationships are an art. Some people are better at it than others, and we all have good and bad days. But in a multibillion-dollar business, recruiting and retaining the right people with the right skills to meet the needs of an organization has to be a science. At PepsiCo, talent management is deeply embedded in the way we do and understand business.

All great strategies come from defining the right answers for the right questions, and talent management is not any different. Any successful business should be constantly assessing: What should be the key talent and capability priorities for the greatest business value? How should we define and assess talent and potential within the company? How can we drive performance, engagement and commitment to the organization? How can we effectively attract critical talent groups?

Realizing there is no such thing as a single silver bullet, we believe there are integrated talent management systems that can effectively support business leaders to further develop their talent agenda. At the same time, it can create a common language and architecture for the entire business. Without trying to be prescriptive or too academic, these are some of the tools and processes we believe make difference:

  • Projecting future talent demand through detailed modeling. Driven by inputs from the different business strategic plans, multi-scenario outputs reveal quantity and quality gaps and help increase transparency for talent management resources globally.
  • Talent segmentations and development prioritization. Ensures we customize the right solutions for enterprise high value, continuity and opportunity talent.
  • Role classification. Segments corporate functions versus operational roles and prioritizes among critical, developmental and other roles. Comparing talent and roles might highlight relevant opportunities.
  • Talent playbook. Establishes harmonious boundaries (guardrails, tools usage and consistent criteria) and development expectations for enterprise talent.
  • Succession and people planning. Provides a centralized process to introduce global transparency and eliminate unnecessary duplicity in planning.

While all the above are prerequisites for success, companies must ensure the right culture is underpinning their systems. These might come across as simple and fairly straightforward statements but, at the same time, they are the most powerful component of the talent management success formula and quite often the missing link leading to failure:

  • An art but also a science. Talent management must be handled much more as a science not just an art.
  • A collective sense of ownership. Talent management must be owned by everyone, driven by the CEO, but owned by everyone.
  • Courageous leadership and bold moves. Talent management requires courage, makes people move before it is too late and does not rely only on homegrown talent.
  • Embracing diversity. When managing and developing talent, pay particular attention to leveraging and integrating diversity in a broad sense (race, gender, generation, thinking, background, experience, capability, culture, etc.)
  •  Leveraging the full potential of your talent to drive change. Good talent management can help slowly shift a company's dominant logic from yesterday's to tomorrow's needs.
  • Balancing the short and the long term. Great talent management requires not only addressing immediate shortages but also taking a long-term perspective. Five• to 10-year development plans are a powerful base for critical talent.

At PepsiCo, we believe an integrated and advanced talent management system is a definitive competitive advantage. In the battle to attract and retain top talent in Russia, PepsiCo has some real unique attributes compared to Western or Russian rivals. At the end of the day, the marriage of the most advanced talent management systems and tools and a fascinating business is the most powerful of the combinations. Thanks to the acquisition of Wimm-Bill-Dann, we are by far Russia's largest food and beverage player, offering Russia's top young talent a virtually unlimited horizon of opportunities across different categories, countries and functions.