Social Impact

Meet one of Saudi Arabia’s first female forklift drivers

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As the country strides toward Vision 2030, PepsiCo is committed to driving women’s empowerment as part of this mission — enabling the next generation of Saudi women by offering diverse employment opportunities.

Women’s rights have changed dramatically in the last few years in Saudi Arabia. PepsiCo has followed these changes closely and brought more Saudi women into its ranks. In 2008, PepsiCo had one female employee in Saudi Arabia; now PepsiCo employs more than 140. It’s all part of PepsiCo’s partnership with Saudi Arabia to help the country’s Vision 2030 goals, in which all citizens can fulfill their dreams, hopes and ambitions to succeed in a thriving economy.

When the Saudi government announced in 2018 that women would be allowed to drive, the news was covered around the world. And PepsiCo announced its commitment to helping Saudi women get behind the wheel.

“PepsiCo covers the cost for our female employees to go to driving school and pays for all the license fees,” says Bander Albader, human resources senior director at PepsiCo, Saudi Arabia. “And they can even practice their driving skills on a simulator in our offices.”

While I’m not the first female in my family to work, I was one of the first.

Aqeelah Ibrahim Al Marzooq

forklift driver

One of those employees is Aqeelah Ibrahim Al Marzooq, who not only learned to drive but now drives for work. She’s the first female forklift driver in PepsiCo’s Saudi Arabia operations. We got a chance to chat with her about what it’s like to be part of this new generation of women.

Were you surprised by the lifting of the ban on female drivers?

I was surprised — we weren’t expecting that to happen. But then I loved it and now many of my female friends also drive.

Do you feel like you’re part of a new generation of women in Saudi Arabia?

Yes. While I’m not the first female in my family to work, I was one of the first. Now many of us have jobs and many of my friends do as well. That’s how I found out about the job at PepsiCo — a friend of mine worked there and she referred me.

What is it like to work at PepsiCo?

PepsiCo is such a positive work environment. I feel very encouraged and supported in what I do.

What are your hopes for your career?

It’s really fun to be a forklift driver — and it’s something I always wanted to do. But I’d also like to try out other jobs to develop myself and my career. This is just the start for me.