Blog by Biliana Kostov
Europe Categories CFO, PepsiCo
No business or function is immune to change. In fact, the one certainty in business, and life in general, is that there will be change.
My current role is Category CFO of PepsiCo Europe, based in Geneva. In this capacity I drive the finance partnership to our Beverages, Snacks and Nutrition categories, including strategy and portfolio choices, strategic business planning and project delivery, our innovation agenda plus A&M effectiveness and competitive insights.
When I first started my career 17 years ago, Finance was a powerhouse because we ‘owned’ the numbers. Today, with significant automation and abundance of external data analytics and insights, numbers and analyses are readily available and visible to everyone. So what makes Finance a powerhouse in today’s context?
About two years ago, I was asked to join a select group to lead the Finance transformation in Europe. As part of a large organization I knew the endeavour was complex and it would require some really fresh thinking. To keep my compass straight, I kept gravitating around one of my favourite quotes: ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results’.
The Finance transformation required rethinking entirely our organization, processes, activities and capabilities. We took a novel approach to everything: defining the vision of Finance of the Future, redefining roles and responsibilities, reorganizing processes and activities, building commercially focused capabilities, and above all, evolving our mindset from transactional and service-oriented to a high-value adding business partnership. In a consumer/ customer facing business, it’s critical that Finance is viewed as a business partner with strategic thought leadership.
Having gone through many changes, I have distilled three traits that I believe are critical to successful transformation:
- Diversity, in everything
Any change involves enormous complexity, a large group of people and tough decisions. Surround yourself with a diverse team – you need different perspectives ever more so when change is involved. This also means honing your ability to influence a diverse group of people, and being open to flexing your approach.
Never underestimate how much humans can be naturally averse to change. Bringing people along by demonstrating personal belief and leading by example is critical to the success of any project.
- Positive intent
No person or situation is less important during change – tread carefully to ensure optimal input from all stakeholders and the best outcome overall. Focus on being constructive versus disruptive.
Finally, it has always been important to me to be associated with a company that shares my mindset around diversity and change. In fact, I wouldn’t be nearly as effective and enthusiastic otherwise. PepsiCo is absolutely at the forefront when it comes to its commitment to diversity and change, a great example of this being its Performance with Purpose promise. I’m truly proud to be at PepsiCo and to help lead the organisation at this exciting time of change and shaping new horizons.