LEAD Network Event Speaker Spotlight

David Gwilliam

September 2018


Can you tell us a bit about your background and your role?

I joined PepsiCo over 20 years ago as a site accountant at the Doritos UK manufacturing plant in Coventry. I started out as a Chartered Accountant and since then I’ve enjoyed a rich and mobile career; working in different functions and regions in the likes of Procurement and M&A, alongside international CFO roles. Today I sit on the UK Leadership Team and head up business transformation for one of PepsiCo’s key growth markets.

During my career, I’ve learnt a lot. Yet one belief has not changed, and that is the fact that diversity brings about positive change. I’ve always seen myself as a change agent, and in the past decade I’ve invested further in this role, leading the UK’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Group as well as being a STEM and a LEAD Network ambassador.

Why is diversity important for you?

When discussing diversity, I tend to ask people “How old were you when you first experienced the sting of injustice?” They often respond with examples from their workplace. I believe this is partly due to the fact we spend most of our waking hours at work, but also because it is where it is often felt most acutely.

I remember my first experience all too well, and the strong emotions it evoked within me.  Since then, I have learnt that “fairness” is my strongest personal core value and this has driven my passion for inclusion and engagement of everyone, irrespective of any vector of diversity – from the traditional characteristics of age, gender or sexual orientation, to people sharing their whole-self through their behaviours, beliefs and thinking-styles.

What is your perspective on the LEAD Network and what advice would you have for us?

I strongly believe that more needs to be done to attract, retain and advance women in our industry and I see LEAD Network as a great support network with a common goal.  We need to engage men as well as women in the debate if we are to achieve our goal of equality.

At PepsiCo, we’re aiming to achieve gender parity in all managerial roles including the leadership team, by 2025.  This is part of our public Performance with Purpose commitment. I see this as a challenge for everyone in our business, both men and women It’s a shared objective designed ultimately to maximise our collective performance.

Tell us about something innovative you’ve done recently related to diversity?

I am fortunate to lead PepsiCo’s Responsive Working movement in the UK. Responsive Working fosters an environment where teams are open, connected and comfortable with exploring new ideas and ways of working. It enables us all to imagine, build, and experiment with ideas so we’re continuously hacking, testing, and improving our products and services.

I believe that this new way of working unlocks the value of diversity within a team by providing an environment where everyone is equally valued and engaged.  A simple example of this in action is a concept called ROUNDS, whereby everyone takes it in turn to share their reactions to a discussion point, thus capturing all thoughts before seeking to proceed. It’s a simple idea that’s very powerful in practice and makes sure everybody in the room gets their say.

How important is diversity within your organization?

PepsiCo has a proud history as a market leader in diversity practices. Among many accreditations, this year our UK team proudly celebrated our 13th consecutive win in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women. We celebrate a culture built on respect and understanding and in doing so we encourage everyone to take to the stage and reach their full potential using PepsiCo’s reach and resources. Not only that, but our evolving workforce reflects our fast-expanding consumer base, and in doing so we can better understand our consumers’ needs which is critical to staying one step ahead of the competition.

What is your biggest achievement related to diversity?

I am proud to have led a programme that supported female entrepreneurship in a key emerging markets. As a result of this, PepsiCo went on to secure funding for similar programmes. This was great to see. Working with a not-for-profit foundation, we pair successful women entrepreneurs with PepsiCo professionals who help them build their business skills, strategies and networks to take their small and medium-sized enterprises to the next level.  By helping these female business owners, we promote gender equality and lasting social change that will form the foundation of sustainable economic prosperity.