Across PepsiCo, hundreds of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) trained employees impact every product we produce.
These STEM skills are crucial to our success as a business. For example, growing crops sustainably and optimizing yields requires expertise in agronomy, crop physiology, genetics and genomics. There is a great amount of math involved in projecting how to source the ingredients needed to feed people in over 200 countries and territories and making more nutritionally-advantaged foods requires expertise in exercise physiology, metabolomics, rheology, computational analysis, and nutrition science. To reduce our carbon footprint, PepsiCo engineers are constantly developing new food-production technologies and lighter packages. It is for these reasons, we work tirelessly to develop next-generation STEM talent at PepsiCo.
In this series of interviews, STEM mentors inside PepsiCo explain why and how they mentor.
Anshul Dubey, R&D Senior Manager [Snacks], Plano, TexasI mentor for two reasons.
First, my professional motive. In more than 200 countries worldwide, more than 1 billion servings of PepsiCo products are consumed daily. PepsiCo’s Research & Development Team, which is disbursed globally, is responsible for formulating all those foods and beverages. Accordingly, if we’re going to feed the world and spur topline and bottom line growth, we’ve got to optimize the talents of every single member of the R&D team.
Second, on a personal level, I gain tremendous satisfaction helping my colleagues accomplish things they didn’t think they could achieve.
There are as many mentoring styles are there are mentors. In my case, I prefer to under-direct mentees rather than over-direct them. Rather than try to “pull” them towards the exact outcome I want, I prefer to get behind them and nudge them in the general direction I want them to go. In my experience, when I give mentees freedom to maneuver, it’s a greater learning opportunity for them. They also take greater ownership in the outcome. What’s more, mentees will often take turns on the journey I wouldn’t have considered—and ultimately arrive at a destination further down the road than I originally expected.
Of course, the biggest challenge for a mentor is time. We are under pressure to innovate. That pressure is actually quite constructive, and forces us to laser-focus on the task at hand. As a result, I don’t always have the luxury of mentoring talent patiently and methodically over, say, a six-month period when the deliverable is due in six weeks. So I often break up big challenges for mentees into small bites. I give them a day or two to tackle a manageable challenge. I also invite them to shadow me as I tackle mine. And I pause along the way —even if only for a few minutes each day—to convey “learning moments.” Also, once projects are delivered and we have a chance to catch our collective breadth, that’s a great time to explain to a mentee everything we just learned.
If there’s one key lesson I’ve learned as a mentor, it’s this: Mentoring can be a two-way street. The student can also teach the teacher. The mentees I bring in on my projects, on occasion, have connected dots that I did not. And the result was that the work I was tasked to deliver improved.