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At PepsiCo Canada, young employees have opportunities to develop their careers through mentorships and the Emerging Leadership Program.Supplied

Rachel McFarlane’s marketing career began when PepsiCo Canada sponsored a competition at her university, and she was part of the team that put it together. The connections she made then led to four internships at the Mississauga, Ont.-based food and beverage giant, and eventually to a full-time job as associate marketing manager of PepsiCo Canada’s Tostitos and Dips division.

“The number one thing about PepsiCo is the people,” she says. “I’ve been able to work with several different managers, and every one of them has really invested in my learning and growth. I think it’s rare to find an environment that’s not competitive but really collaborative in nature, and that’s why I wanted to come back here to work.”

McFarlane has been able to take advantage of lots of training opportunities during her time at PepsiCo, including Brand Marketing College, a “marketing 101″ course that happens every fall, as well as the Emerging Leadership Program offered to all new sales, marketing and supply chain hires. She has also received both formal and informal mentorships.

“Apart from the formal programs, there have been people who have championed me and been willing to support me as I figure out how to be a great marketer,” she says. “And it’s often been in those informal connections that the greatest learning has taken place.”

Mariana Bedolla, vice-president of human resources for PepsiCo Canada’s beverage business, says the company’s strong focus on employee development starts right away with an intensive onboarding process.

“Onboarding is critical,” she says. “They spend time not just with their managers but with other parts of the organization, and it creates an environment where they feel welcomed and wanted.”

New hires are then offered a program called Campus. “For the majority this is their first experience with employment,” Bedolla says. “So it shows them how our business works and provides them with capability-building around things like time management and prioritization.”

Bedolla is particularly pleased with the Emerging Leadership Program, which identifies, trains and supports potential leaders, and the Transformational Leadership Program. “That’s geared toward women in the work force, and talks about their aims and challenges. We’ve put about 200 people through that program, and I’m super proud of that.”

During the pandemic, the company boosted its efforts to keep staff safe and healthy by launching a series of mental health and resilience programs, like well-being webinars, and then made them permanent.

“It’s not something we just did for the pandemic,” Bedolla says. “All our programs now have mental health components. Our leadership programs have a huge emphasis on the role of leaders to support their employees and acknowledge their challenges. It’s built-in, rather than being a standalone program.”

As well, once a year the company gives everyone a little extra R&R during Employee Appreciation Week. “Every year it’s a bit different, and this year one of the days was all about caring for each other,” Bedolla says. “We did pet therapy with puppies, and the feedback was really great, like ‘I came in feeling stressed and came out a different person.’”

It’s all part of a culture that stresses openness and diversity of thought, Bedolla says. “We have several generations in our workplace, which makes it a rich and inclusive culture where everyone can share their perspectives, regardless of where they have worked or lived before.”

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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.

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