Life at PepsiCo

Meet My Mentor: Women in STEM Who Dare for Better

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This Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating colleagues who have made a meaningful contribution to our professional and personal lives.

Women are often underrepresented in the workplace. We’ve yet to achieve global gender parity and equity. And many women around the world experience work-life imbalance. These are just a few reasons why mentorship is so important.

Meaningful support from women (and men) in the workplace helps women advance their careers. Representation and sponsorship foster an inclusive environment where connections not only matter — they can be transformative. This is especially true in traditionally underrepresented fields, like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. According to UN Women, women’s underrepresentation in digital technology has reduced the potential gross domestic product of low- and middle-income countries by $1 trillion over the last 10 years.

Reducing the digital gender divide is the right thing to do. And it’s one of the many reasons we remain committed to gender parity and achieving 50% women in managerial roles around the world by 2025. At PepsiCo, we create a space for people to be themselves so they can thrive.

Here, three PepsiCo associates discuss our people and culture, the importance of mentorship, and how we can bring more women into STEM fields and set them up for success.

Marilyn Colantuoni
IT LATAM Strategy & Transformation Director
Mexico City, Mexico

What stands out to you about PepsiCo’s people and culture?

First, PepsiCo’s culture is everywhere. I’ve always had a connection with it. Our brands are iconic. I remember being little and sipping on Pepsi! When I joined PepsiCo, I was really excited to have an impact and engage with the customers. Internally, we dare to put each other first. PepsiCo is such a diverse community. There’s a level of empathy here that’s so rewarding to experience at a global company.

What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

Even just jumping into my position in IT strategy and transformation was engaging. I get to holistically understand the business. I have deep insights about the iconic brands we make, move and sell and how they positively impact people in the real world. I can influence people around me.

What does mentorship mean to you?

We’re all human. We all have goals and dreams and problems. Mentorship can mean everything. That’s why I co-created Empower IT with my mentor, Ana Fleury. It’s a safe space where women in IT can discuss anything going on in our lives. For example, how can I lead a meeting if my kids are running around at home? Even if I don’t personally have an answer, others around me might.

Can you talk about the importance of representation?

Representation is vital. Even with Empower IT, we realized that we needed to include men. They’re our allies. And even more, we shifted from gender and race to diversity and inclusion, and opened the space for incredible leaders to voice their thoughts around different experiences collaborating in the same work environment. The importance of representation boils down to empathy. How can we show up as we are and have real conversations about pain points in IT? Representation is necessary to build a community of collaboration.

Tell us about your mentors.

I have two! Ana Fleury and Lily Zaidman. Both understand the power of one-on-one relationships. They’re able to put themselves in my shoes and provide constructive feedback. They give me the freedom to be creative. As a result, I’m able to better step into a room with confidence. I’m able to understand how I can become more of an inspirational leader. And so much of that is due to strong women like Ana and Lily. They’re such role models.

Ana Fleury
VP and CIO PepsiCo Latin America
São Paulo, Brazil

Tell us about your professional journey.

Prior to PepsiCo, I spent nearly 20 years consulting, designing and delivering technology solutions for major companies in the consumer goods industry. I joined PepsiCo Brazil Foods in 2013, where I became the Chief Transformation Officer. I got to build the department from the ground up. After three years, I took over the CIO position in Brazil, leading IT and Transformation. In 2020, I was made CIO for Latin America!

What stands out to you about PepsiCo’s people and culture?

I heard about PepsiCo’s culture and values before joining. I had worked with numerous PepsiCo associates as a consultant. Everyone was very collaborative and creative. They were also so supportive throughout the onboarding process and role changes. Working with the people of PepsiCo is truly a privilege.

What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

The impact I’ve had on people around me. I find joy in supporting colleagues in their career progression and professional decisions. Each and every person here should feel proud. We’re making people’s lives easier and better by generating prosperity and growth.

What does mentorship mean to you?

It means having someone you trust. Mentors will actively listen to your point of view while giving candid feedback. This is critical for retaining women in technology. It’s a powerful way to provide direction and inspire women who are looking to thrive in a male-dominated industry. Mentorship empowers women to better navigate work-life challenges with solid emotional support.

Marilyn Colantuoni told us you’re one of her mentors. What inspired you to take on that role?

Marilyn pursues her objectives relentlessly. She also loves engaging and developing people. In IT, she has developed the agenda and content for many of the women development sessions. She is easygoing and values transparent relationships.

If you could tell her one thing, what would it be?

Succeeding implies dedication and discipline. Keep working hard, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride!

Lily Zaidman
Senior Vice President Chief Financial Officer, PepsiCo Latin America
Miami/Fort Lauderdale area, United States

What stands out to you about PepsiCo’s people and culture?

I’ve been at PepsiCo for almost 30 years in various corporate and sector roles throughout the United States and around the world. Our associates have an unbelievable can-do attitude. Across functions, our associates and frontline workers are highly motivated with a strong desire to win. People here are so smart and passionate.

What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

I think my biggest accomplishment is knowing that I’ve had a real impact on many people. So many of my closest colleagues are still here, working at very senior levels. I’m so proud of their success. That’s also just embedded into our culture: We encourage, support and listen to one another at PepsiCo. We really put each other first and look ahead with a true sense of optimism.

What does mentorship mean to you?

It’s important to have relationships with leaders at all levels. We can learn so much from people at different stages of their careers. It’s rewarding to provide support and guidance to talented people. Mentorship is one of the most important safe spaces people can have.

Can you talk about the importance of representation?

As a Hispanic woman with a bit of an accent, working in the United States was not always easy. I work in Finance, where we’re very lucky to have women in senior positions. As CFO of PepsiCo LATAM, I’m also very fortunate to work with women in senior positions. Our CEO, head of R&D, head of IT, head of Marketing, head of Legal, head of Communications, and head of HR are all women! Our diversity makes us so much stronger, and our business results over the last two years clearly validate that.

Marilyn Colantuoni said you’re one of her mentors. What inspired you to take on that role?

I’ve worked with Marilyn for years. Our exchanges always focused on content. But I had the luck of meeting up with Marilyn on a flight to Mexico a few months ago. I was overcome by her story and journey. She’s an extraordinary woman, highly focused, and full of life and drive. That night I learned how important it is to take a little time to really get to know the people around us.

Who do you look up to for inspiration?

I’m inspired by the incredible senior leaders at PepsiCo. But my true inspiration comes from my 21-year-old daughter. I always say she’s the best version of me, and everything I do is about making her half as proud as I am of her.