September 28, 2021  

6 ways to step out of your comfort zone
Christine Daugherty, PepsiCo Vice President of Global Sustainable Agriculture and Responsible Sourcing, talks about why it’s so important to expand your professional horizons — and how you can do it.

Christine Daughterty

“If you don't get in a place where you are uncomfortable, you become stagnant,” says Christine Daugherty, PepsiCo Vice President of Global Sustainable Agriculture and Responsible Sourcing. As someone who’s toggled between careers as a research scientist for NASA and a patent attorney before landing at PepsiCo, Christine knows plenty about the importance of seeking out new experiences.

Her current role requires her to embrace the unfamiliar, too. During her four years at the company, Christine has traveled across the globe to meet with farmers and supply partners to adopt practices that advance soil, watershed and environmental health. She must also ensure fair treatment for the farmers and people in the agricultural communities involved in growing and sourcing crops. All of these trips have exposed her to new perspectives, innovative ideas and a range of cultures. “I have grown to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” she says.

Here, she shares tips on how to push yourself in new directions that will set you up for success at work and beyond:


“The way to move forward is thinking beyond the status quo,” Christine says. “You have to set a target on the goals that matter to you and push ahead.” She says that mindset inspires her to seek new ideas that align with the company’s pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) end-to-end business transformation. “At PepsiCo we have the opportunity to really influence and change the global food system for the better,” Christine says. “That gives me the opportunity to think: How can we use our voice, our influence, our technology, our diversity to drive positive change?”


Having people to back you up will make it easier to take a leap, Christine says. “We all need someone to say, ‘You can do it.’” She says creating a supportive environment for her team to push boundaries has been essential for driving ambitious pep+ goals. “We’re aiming to spread regenerative agriculture across our entire agricultural footprint,” she says. “I tell my team to share learnings, both positive and negative — that’s how we’ll get to 7 million acres. You want folks to know you’re not going to let them fail. They may stumble, but you are there for them — that’s how you allow a person to stretch."


Too often we stay on a path because we’ve already invested time or effort in it, Christine says. “But if you're afraid to change, you’ve done a disservice to yourself, your team and your professional career,” she says. Getting out of a rut can be as simple as taking on a special project or new assignment. “Raise your hand, experiment with something new,” she says. “If you do need to make that big jump off of the high board, you've taken the baby steps to climb the ladder.”


Christine says she’s always benefited from gaining the perspective of trusted sources like friends or others in her field when contemplating a big move. “It’s ok to reach out and get advice — outside input can be helpful,” she says. To set industry-leading goals for pep+, Christine looked at what benchmarks academics, NGOs and other companies had set. “I want to hear what other people think and then make the best decision having done all the research.”


Simply making a change doesn’t always signify growth, Christine says. Sometimes, moving on to the next thing can actually represent avoiding a challenge. Before taking a big step into something new, Christine says, “make sure you’re not just leaving something because it’s difficult, or else you’ll be disappointed.”


Don’t wait for someone to ask for your expertise, Christine says. “If you were invited to the meeting, it’s because people value your insights and opinions.” Having been the only woman in the room for many meetings, she has learned to make sure her voice is heard. “I tell women: Take your place at the table. Don’t sit back against the wall — grab that chair and sit down.”