Robert Dixon is senior vice president and global chief information officer for PepsiCo, Inc., a global food and beverage powerhouse with net revenues of more than $66 billion. Robert joined PepsiCo as Global CIO in 2007 and leads PepsiCo’s information technology function, a global network of 6,000 employees and strategic supplier partners known internally as Business + Information Solutions (BIS). Dixon’s team supports PepsiCo’s 250,000 employees and the diverse and complex business units and brands of PepsiCo. Dixon has positioned the IT function to Digitize PepsiCo for Growth, his vision to deliver technology capabilities that automate business processes, enable associates to connect and collaborate more easily, and collect and mine data for analytical insights, improving business and financial performance across every aspect of the company’s value chain.
Dixon is a strategic partner to all of PepsiCo’s business leaders. Before PepsiCo, Dixon was a vice president in Procter & Gamble’s Global Business Services, where he was a five-year member of P&G’s global business council of top executives and diversity advisor to the CEO.
Dixon is a passionate advocate for the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. He earned his degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and continues to champion STEM education and careers for our next generation of leaders.
His professional affiliations include:
- Board member, Anthem, Inc.
- Member, CIO Strategy Exchange
- Member, IT Senior Management Forum
- Member, The Cash CIO Forum
- Member, IBM Board of Advisors
- Member, College of Engineering Advisory Board, Georgia Institute of Technology
- Former member, President’s Advisory Board, Georgia Institute of Technology
- Distinguished Engineering Alumni, Georgia Institute of Technology
- Transformational CIO Leadership Award, 2012
- “Top Ten Breakaway Leader Award,” Global CIO Executive Summit, 2012
It is impossible to understate the importance of STEM education and professions to our global economic health and our wellbeing as citizens of the world. In today’s dynamic environment, we depend on science, technology, engineering and mathematics to survive and thrive. As an engineer and information technology executive, I am personally and professionally passionate about STEM. It is my honor to advocate for STEM programs on behalf of future generations.
I am proud that PepsiCo is a STEMconnector Platinum member. STEMconnector is helping to create a diverse workforce with diverse thinking capable of solving today’s problems and anticipating tomorrow’s challenges.
To advance PepsiCo’s STEM vision, I have created and led several STEM initiatives, including these three focused on our technology organization:
- An aggressive college intern and new-hire program;
- An IT career model that provides STEM education and growth opportunities; and
- A mentoring program for junior associates
The college intern and new-hire program is changing the demographics of our IT organization. We are recruiting digitally native millennials who will develop the next generation of technology solutions and are already providing fresh insights. My goal is to have these millennials challenge PepsiCo to act more like a technology start-up and use our company’s considerable resources to move faster than our competitors. Over the past five years, we have brought more than 100 young professionals into PepsiCo through this program.
The IT career model, called Careers in Motion, is a comprehensive program that provides education, career “tracks” and job opportunities for our approximately 3,500 technology employees globally. The career model defines specific STEM paths, such as data and analytics, to propel our employees into areas of growth. The career model also highlights critical experiences needed to succeed as an information technologist of the future, along with personal success stories that demonstrate there is no one path to senior leadership. More than 2,100 employees are enrolled in our IT career model this year.
Our mentoring program pairs accomplished executives with junior professionals to provide career guidance and support. Mentors and mentees are matched through online profiles, ensuring that associates in every corner of our organization have the opportunity to engage with and benefit from our senior IT talent. STEM education and careers are a frequent topic of conversation, as we work to develop the talent and skills to realize our vision to Digitize PepsiCo for Growth. The mentor program has more than 400 mentor pairs across 17 countries.
In addition to those programs, I take every opportunity to champion STEM initiatives across PepsiCo. As an example, I have assigned one of my most senior leaders – Joan Pertak, senior vice president and chief information officer for North America Beverages – to participate on PepsiCo’s STEM Council. The STEM Council is composed of PepsiCo executives across multiple functions and business units globally. This year the Council is focused on three signature programs:
- New York Academy of Science (NYAS): The PepsiCo Foundation has donated $1 million and partnered with NYAS to create an Innovation Challenge open to all students. The challenge seeks ideas for feeding the world’s population and providing clean, safe water. I have asked one of my most promising associates to be an expert advisor, in addition to serving on the judging panel.
- Career Accelerator Week: PepsiCo is developing a program to provide high school students with a day full of exciting and motivating immersion into STEM careers. The initial focus will be on underserved students in New York, Illinois, Texas and Mexico City, Mexico, with plans to expand the program in 2016.
- Million Women Mentors (MWM): Two senior female leaders on my team are defining this STEMconnector program for PepsiCo. PepsiCo’s MWM will support STEMconnector’s engagement of 1 Million Women Mentors to increase the interest and confidence of girls and women to succeed in STEM careers.
Outside PepsiCo, I have been active for years with these organizations that promote STEM education and careers, especially in underserved populations:
- NPower is a nonprofit whose mission is to mobilize the tech community and provide individuals, nonprofits and schools opportunities to build tech skills. Earlier this year I was proud to represent PepsiCo at the inaugural NPower Jazz Dallas, a fundraiser benefiting U.S. Armed Services veterans. In Dallas alone, NPower has trained more than 300 veterans, with an 80% job placement rate.
- The IT Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) is a professional association whose mission is to develop the next generation of African-American IT executives. I was the founding dean of ITSMF’s Executive Academy leadership development program, and I have been honored to represent PepsiCo at numerous ITSMF events and for PepsiCo to be a corporate sponsor.
- The Links Inc. is an international, not-for-profit corporation led by women of color who are committed to enriching and ensuring the cultural and economic survival of African-Americans and other persons of African ancestry. I was thrilled to recently co-host with my wife, Sheree, a STEM session at PepsiCo for 50 Dallas-area high school-age girls. They spent the day learning about technologies that support collaboration and PepsiCo’s “make, move and sell” operations, which are real-life priorities for our technology organization.
I take my responsibility to increase STEM education and careers globally very seriously. I have dedicated, and will continue to dedicate, personal and professional resources to ensure that we are developing young professionals with the power, vision and skills to improve our world.
PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $66 billion in net revenue in 2014, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales. At the heart of PepsiCo is Performance with Purpose – our goal to deliver top-tier financial performance while creating sustainable growth and shareholder value. PepsiCo investment in STEM education includes the Spirit of Innovation Challenge, in which PepsiCo partnered with the Conrad Foundation to invite students to use STEM skills to develop commercially viable products addressing real-world issues, and membership in the STEM Food & Ag Council, which leverages the collective intellect, wisdom and resources of its members to identify clear actions plans that connect and create careers in food and agriculture.