Life at PepsiCo

Candid Conversations: Supporting the Women of PepsiCo

4 empowering women 4 empowering women
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Our stories have power. When we’re vulnerable and share individual experiences, we can reveal a world of possibilities for collective connection and growth.

Women make up half of the world’s population, yet their stories — and social, political and economic contributions to history, culture and society — have often been overlooked.

This, of course, doesn’t reflect the reality of our daily lives: Our mothers, sisters, co-workers and friends strengthen and empower us. They leave a lasting mark, and we’re the best version of ourselves because of them. We celebrate them, always.

Honoring women means letting them tell their stories — in their words. This year, the theme for Women’s History Month is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” That’s exactly what sharing their lived experience does.

By communicating their joys, hardships and triumphs, women can inspire everyone — regardless of gender — to be their best.

Here, four women share their courage and vision, and the ways PepsiCo has helped them thrive.

Shana Andrews and son, Nicholas

Shana Andrews
Senior Manager, Global Employer Brand
United States

Tell us about yourself. What does your typical day look like?

I usually wake up at 7:00 a.m. with my little guy, Nicholas. We enjoy some breakfast together before I take him to school and start my workday. A lot of my work revolves around employer brand marketing and content creation. Funnily enough, I now find myself being the subject of one of my stories.

Without PepsiCo’s fertility benefits, you say, your son might not be here. Tell us about your journey.

I am blessed to work for a company that not only supports women but empowers us to be the best version of ourselves. They do so through their benefits, but also the nurturing culture. I went through years of IVF that I would not have been able to afford on my own had it not been for our health benefits. I’m also lucky to work for a team and manager who support my being a mom.

How does PepsiCo help people looking to start (or add to) their family?

I can only speak of PepsiCo in the United States, but our health benefits offer a fertility treatment lifetime maximum of $35,000. And there’s a Reproductive Resource Services Program (RRSP) available to help employees like myself understand fertility treatment options, process and how to maximize the benefit.

What does that mean to you? Knowing you work for a company that helps people in that way?

It means a lot. It means life, it means family, and it means that they care about me beyond an employee — as a human being.

How does PepsiCo empower and support women?

One of the things I have appreciated the most about my employment with PepsiCo is how supportive the company and my managers have always been. When I was going through fertility treatments, I often had to go to doctor’s appointments, procedures, and my team was always understanding and supportive. I still remember when I had my last miscarriage, and I came home to flowers from my manager and my colleague. It meant the world to me! Now, as a mom, the support continues. I work hard, don’t get me wrong, but I also have the flexibility and support to take time out of my day to be a present mom for my son – whether it be taking him to school or being there for a doctor’s appointment.

What’s your favorite thing about PepsiCo?

My team, my manager, the people. They all feel like family.

What’s one thing you hope people will learn from your story?

Don’t be afraid to talk about things and share your story, because it might help someone else. Maybe someone in the company didn’t realize we had these benefits, and now does. Also, be your own advocate. For prospective talent, look for an employer and team who will have your best interests at heart.

Deonne Skull at beach.

Deonne Skull
Field Trade Marketing Manager
United Kingdom

What’s your favorite thing about PepsiCo?

The people. We’re empowered to voice our opinions fearlessly — and know that the people of the organization have our backs. You can truly bring your full self to work.

You’ve been at PepsiCo for four years. In that time, you’ve leveraged treatments for your physical and mental health. Tell us about that journey.

In June 2020, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 34 years old. My twin boys, Zack and Luca, were 3 at the time. We were also in the middle of lockdown due to the pandemic.

That’s a lot to deal with all at once. What did you do?

Associates who are trained to notice the initial signs of mental health difficulties are called Mental Health First Aiders. My line manager is one of them. She put me in touch with our Employee Assistance Program, and I was supported by a counselor. I was also in touch with my insurance company to see what treatment plan was best. That was incredible. Not only was my treatment, including surgery, completely covered, but I was also referred to a clinical psychologist for additional support.

What other PepsiCo benefits helped during this time?

PepsiCo gave me private health insurance, which allowed me to go to a private hospital. Through AXA insurance, I was able to receive Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This was the biggest help to my well-being and emotional health. I learned about mindfulness, I practiced meditation, and I overcame my overwhelming fear and anxiety of death by practicing ACT techniques. My physical treatment included five months of chemotherapy, followed by a lumpectomy and then radiotherapy.

Deonne Skull receiving chemotherapy; Deonne Skull with two children

How did those benefits impact your day to day?

I was off work for around nine months. Throughout this time, I didn’t need to worry about my finances due to sick pay. Keep in mind: This all happened during lockdown. We were already worried about COVID, not having child care, and not having family nearby to support us. We were grateful not to have to worry about money too.

PepsiCo is known for its inclusive community. Can you talk about that culture? How have people been there for you?

My experience was awful for a short period, but it also had the best possible outcome: a full recovery. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for so many others I met undergoing treatment. When I returned to work, I led a breast cancer awareness program. I wanted more people to check their chests on a more regular basis. The amount of support I received was incredible. So many women and men joined and shared the program with their family and friends. Additionally, so many people have told me that my story has inspired them to check their chest regularly.

How are you doing now?

I’m doing really well. Mentally, I am strong. I still practice CBT and ACT when I need to. I encourage others to practice mindfulness and meditation. I have great perspective now — I don’t sweat the small stuff. The people of PepsiCo have been an incredible support to me. I feel like they wrapped their arms around me — virtually — when I needed it so much. And to me, that’s everything. It’s something money can’t buy. PepsiCo has my loyalty.

Sara Soda with two family members

Sara Koda
Total Rewards Director
United States

Tell us about yourself. What’s your typical day like?

My typical day starts with a Peloton ride or a Wellbeats workout, and then I get ready for work. I’ve been working from home (like many of us!) since March 2020. At work, I focus on benefits for employees and their families.

Total Rewards is PepsiCo’s holistic program that offers services and support for associates. Can you talk about the importance of that program?

Total Rewards is critical to our business. It focuses on pay and benefits — some of the most important things to our employees and their families. Within the benefits space, we really strive to bring programs and offerings that our employees and their families can use to make a difference in their lives. Being your healthiest self really makes a difference in all aspects of your life, and we want to be there to help our employees reach optimal well-being.

Part of that is SWORD, a virtual therapy program. Have you accessed this program? If so, how?

Yes, I’ve been using SWORD for about six months now. It’s a digital program that is accessed initially through signing up via web. The best way to get to the program sign-up page is through Castlight, our digital health navigation tool. Castlight has all our benefits and wellness programs contained in one spot. Once you sign up, a kit is sent to you that has a tablet and sensors that you wear on your body.

How has SWORD benefitted you?

SWORD has benefited me immensely. I’ve always had back and neck pain and thought it was something I’d just have to live with. With SWORD, I’ve been able to complete my physical therapy sessions on my own time and have seen a huge improvement in my pain. The best part about SWORD is it’s so easy to take my kit with me anywhere I go. Now, my pain has been reduced to almost zero! I continue to do my exercises with my tablet and my physical therapist on a regular basis. I just love that PepsiCo provides this program at zero cost to me.

What can other companies learn from PepsiCo?

Other companies can learn that embracing digital, innovative solutions that are on-demand for employees and their families can really make a difference. Traditional brick-and-mortar care is always great, but having solutions that work and are available anytime can really make a difference!

What’s your favorite thing about working at PepsiCo?

My two favorite things about working at PepsiCo are the people and the amount of innovation that takes place. It’s exciting to be part of such a forward-thinking company! I’ve been at PepsiCo for nine years, and I’ve felt like part of the PepsiCo family since day one. PepsiCo does an amazing job of allowing everyone to bring their whole selves to work and really embrace unique strengths. I’ve always felt like I have a seat at the table!

Pragya Dwivedi dancing

Pragya Dwivedi
Manager R&D Snacks — 
Flavors and Seasonings

Tell us about yourself. What’s your typical day like?

I’ve been a food technologist with almost eight years of experience in research and development. For the past four years, I’ve worked as an associate scientist developing seasoning and flavors. Typically, my day involves product prototypes development, evaluation, finalization, meetings and coordination with stakeholders (e.g.; R&D, Category, GP, Suppliers, etc.).

You also take part in one of India’s hobby clubs. Can you tell us about it?

During the pandemic, the PepsiCo India team introduced hobby clubs. These have allowed associates to connect informally over video and share our hobbies with each other. I ended up leading a dancing club called In Sync Beats. Dancing really promotes feelings of joy, which can help people face difficult situations in life. Every Friday, I invited associates and their family members to learn different types of choreography. It’s been so nice to connect virtually like this. We’ve essentially been able to connect, dance, laugh and have fun for an hour. Having virtual dance classes also allowed me to reacquaint myself with dance and learn some new forms!

Are there any other clubs you take part in?

I’m actually a member of most of the hobby clubs! I participate in clubs focused on gardening, acting, art and cooking. All of these have taught me new skills. It’s hugely motivating when you share, say, a piece of artwork and group members openly share appreciation and motivate you. Trying out new activities has really helped keep me stress-free, happy and joyful. I’m beyond grateful to our human resource partners who provided a platform for us to connect, share interests, grow and learn.

How did PepsiCo empower you to join the clubs?

The pandemic has been so hard for everyone throughout the world. Our human resources team really took steps to make this period less difficult. Part of that was establishing no work calls on Fridays. Instead, we’ve taken the time to connect over video to discuss our passions and hobbies. Getting an opportunity to showcase our skills and passions has really benefited all of us.

What can other companies learn from PepsiCo?

I feel valued, respected, accepted and encouraged to fully participate in the organization. I feel comfortable sharing my ideas. PepsiCo truly supports women by creating once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for leadership. Any company can look to PepsiCo as a template for success. Here, I know I have the flexibility and freedom to explore my skills and passions.

Candid Conversations is an ongoing series about identity and workplace culture.