5 Minutes With…Omar Farid, GCC general manager, PepsiCo

PepsiCo is currently focussing on expanding operations in Saudi Arabia, says Omar Farid, the GCC general manager of PepsiCo.

By
Aarti Nagraj
September 23, 2012

What will your company be focusing on this year?

PepsiCo’s growth strategies are around growing the core (current businesses) while continuing to expand into adjacent categories such as juices, non-alcoholic malt, energy drinks and Quaker bars and, in the foods category, biscuits. This strategy is also focused on providing nutritious options for the market.

Are you concerned that the current volatile global economic climate will affect your strategy?

My belief is that one should focus on the longer term. In this context, the GCC will prosper as the core of the Middle Eastern economies and investments will continue. Despite the volatile global economic climate, PepsiCo has been experiencing continuous growth. Emerging markets such as the Middle East are seen as strategic growth centers for our business.

As for PepsiCo’s product categories, beverages and foods are clearly less impacted than other industries, as we offer very affordable “pleasures” to our consumers’ daily lives.

In the GCC, we continue to have strong market leadership. PepsiCo is market leader in the carbonated soft drink category in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Egypt.

PepsiCo is also a leader in the food’s side of its business with Quaker Oats, Lays, Cheetos and Doritos brands in Saudi, Egypt and the UAE.

What are the growth areas currently for your industry?

Saudi Arabia is an important market for our industry, as it is among the largest markets in the region. The Gulf countries are relatively rich, hence they provide scale as well as high profitability.

What new products will your company launch this year?

We have launched a new Lays brand campaign called ‘Do Us a Flavor’, where we asked consumers to vote for their favourite flavour. The winning flavor was Pizza, and has now been launched in the market. This is just one of the ways through which we are empowering consumers and engaging them to come up with new innovations for our products. We are also investing behind the Quaker brand having recently launched Quaker cookies. This is to provide our consumers with greater diversity of convenient, on-the go snacks which meets their needs.

Will you be expanding into new territory?

We have consciously made aggressive plans to invest and accelerate our growth in new markets and have therefore ramped up investments. In the Gulf, PepsiCo continues to focus on key markets such as Saudi Arabia, which are considered scale markets, driven by income and high populations.

What will be the biggest challenges for UAE businesses in your sector in 2012?

Some of the challenges for food and beverage businesses in general include the current global economic climate, the prevailing political instability in the region and the continued rise in the price of commodities.

I would also say that this is a time to focus our efforts on building the skills of the future young generation of leaders including nationals across the region through their engagement in international programmes and companies.

Will you be hiring this year?

We are fortunate to be operating in a region with a rich talent pool and a number of growing economies. This is definitely of benefit to our business and enables us to attract and retain the right talent as needed to meet our business needs.

What’s your leadership style?

Trust in people is very important. I believe that people can make things happen if they are inspired, motivated and supported to achieve their goals. I tend to change my leadership style to suit the situation and the team around me, so with experienced teams I delegate more and just manage the delivery and with young inexperienced teams I am more prescriptive to what needs to be accomplished.

What makes the perfect employee?

A perfect employee is an individual who is hungry for knowledge about the business, prepared to invest time to learn about his work, has a sense of ownership to his business and believes in performance as a base for growing. A perfect employee is also self-motivated, owns his career development and growth, and acts with integrity at all times.

Define success in five words…

Achieving desired goals on time.

Three tips for becoming the boss…

Set the agenda, take others with you and do it the right way.

When I’m not at work I like to…

Do a lot of travelling, and when I have free time, I like to spend it at home with family and friends.

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