October 30, 2023  

5 strategies to build a purpose-driven career

C.D. Glin, President of the PepsiCo Foundation and Global Head of Social Impact, explains how everyone has the skills to change the world for the better.

A simple challenge has inspired C.D. Glin’s entire career: “Why not be a part of the change?” Answering that call has led him to the Peace Corps, a role in former President Barack Obama’s administration, the U.S. African Development Foundation, and now to PepsiCo, as President of the PepsiCo Foundation and Global Head of Social Impact.

He’s spearheading global initiatives that advance the company’s pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) goals, which include advancing food security, providing safe water access and supporting economic opportunity for underserved communities. But he’ll be the first to tell you that you don’t need to lead a global foundation or move to Africa to change the world.

“Philanthropy starts with the individual,” C.D. says. Here, he shares ways every person can use their skills to create a better world.


C.D.’s father spent nearly 30 years in the U.S. Air Force, which meant frequent moves to new bases. And his mother, who had a degree in social work, scouted ways the Glin family could help each community. As perpetual newcomers, “We always asked, ‘What do they need? How can we help?’” Those questions are the first step to making a difference.


You don’t have to be an expert. One of C.D.’s favorite quotes is from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.” C.D. says, “We all have something we can offer,” whether it’s donating time to volunteer or “treasure” financially to charities. You can also donate your talent. “The knowledge and skills that make you effective at your job can be transferred to help others,” C.D. explains. Many nonprofits need marketing expertise, legal aid or accounting help. Millions of young people need mentoring. “There are so many ways you can give back,” C.D. says.


You come across more opportunities to be of service than you realize, C.D. says. Think office clothing drives, online donation requests or a colleague discussing weekend plans to volunteer at a local shelter. “Stay ready,” he says, “because those opportunities might literally fall into your lap. Don’t let them pass you by. Be visible, raise your hand and show with your actions that you want to do more.”


Serving under world leaders including President Obama and Nelson Mandela showed C.D. how important it is to set clear goals for philanthropic efforts, just like any other work project. “They identified the changes they wanted to see in their countries and took decisive action to achieve them,” C.D. says. He approaches his work leading the PepsiCo Foundation with the same strategic mindset. “We’re recognizing the barriers people and communities face and building programs that not only impact them today, but also give them the tools to set them up for long-term success.”


Solving the global hunger crisis is not something anyone can do alone, so C.D. is reminded of Lao Tzu’s wisdom: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Even a small donation to a local food pantry helps people facing food insecurity. “You may not think it’s a big deal, but if enough people make those small acts, they start to add up,” C.D. says. “Don’t be afraid to set an example.”