Life at PepsiCo

How does a startup veteran transition to a Fortune 500 company?

Jason Fertel headshot from talk on how to go from a startup to corporate role Jason Fertel headshot from talk on how to go from a startup to corporate role
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Jason Fertel joined PepsiCo after years of working for early-stage startups and co-founding one of his own. Now he’s figuring out how to expand on the technology he developed at his startup to make PepsiCo’s global business faster, stronger and better. The experience has surprised him — in a good way.

What drew you to work at PepsiCo?

Before I became an engineering manager here, PepsiCo was actually a client of the startup that I co-founded called Simple Machine. PepsiCo really believed in our vision at Simple Machine, where we wanted to help eCommerce marketers avoid many of the third-party costs that are often required to place ads online.

How does it feel to work for a huge company like PepsiCo after spending so many years in the startup world?

For me, it’s been interesting to see a company the size of PepsiCo using lean startup methodology to solve a lot of our problems in eCommerce. We move fast, everything is data-driven, and we’re not afraid to fail at certain things and iterate until we get things right. To be honest, I get very excited talking about what we’re doing here because we’re doing it the right way.

Are you having fun?

I’m having a blast. We’re building impactful new digital capabilities. We’re able to make smart technology decisions that are correct for what we’re doing, which is very empowering. I’m having way more fun than I expected to have here — I thought in some ways it might have been a little bit of a slog to do what we wanted to do in a big company. I think this exceeds all my expectations for what I wanted to get out of my experience here.

Jason Fertel talking to coworker on how to go from a startup to corporate role

Do you feel like your work is making an impact?

There’s an opportunity for what we’re doing here to be a petri dish for rolling out tech to the rest of the company. The digital capabilities we’ve built have allowed us to make major strides in our eCommerce business in the United States, and we’re now deploying them in international markets. Furthermore, even though we started with eCommerce, we believe we can leverage our digital expertise to strengthen PepsiCo’s brick-and-mortar business as well.

Tell us about your day-to-day schedule.

Day to day, it’s much like any other technology company. We operate using similar procedures as your typical tech or Scrum-based org. We start each day with a standup meeting, where we all say what we did yesterday, what we’re doing today and what’s been blocking us. It’s a great way to make sure everyone’s on the same page and everyone’s working on the right thing.

Do you feel fully supported at PepsiCo? Has anything surprised you?

The company has been very supportive in giving me the opportunity to build an engineering team. I came in with a lot of experience as an engineer but not a lot of experience in team building, and I certainly never had the opportunity to grow something as large as what we want to do here at PepsiCo.

What’s your best advice for someone starting out in your field?

Build stuff on your own. Have a project you can hack on at home that you find fun and want to work on. This makes you a better engineer because you’ll learn how to do certain things that you might not have known how to do, and you’ll get better at these things as you learn in your own way.