Vice President Transformation and PMO, PepsiCo Asia, Middle East & Africa
Bachelor of Applied Science (Recreation Planning Management), 1992
Post Graduate Certificate in Legal Practice, 1998
Alexandra (Alex) Richardson has made her distinct mark on the field of corporate human resources at the global billion dollar company, PepsiCo, by developing more opportunities for women. She has been widely recognised for her inspiring work, including receiving The International Alliance for Women World of Difference 100 Award in 2014 for her contribution to the economic empowerment of women across Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
Alex is currently the Vice President of Organisation Transformation at PepsiCo in Dubai – a company that values the importance of investing in equal opportunities for women in the workplace. PepsiCo is the world-wide manufacturer of household brands such as Smith’s Chips, Quaker Oats, Doritos, Tropicana and Gatorade, with an estimated annual net revenue of US $64 billion.
“PepsiCo has a long history of women role models, we were the first major company to have a woman on the Board of Directors in the 1950’s. Our current Chairman and CEO, Indra K. Nooyi, is one of the most inspiring and influential women in the world,” Alex says.
Alex has received multiple awards for her work in the corporate human resource sector, particularly for women’s rights and support in the workplace. In 2012 Alex received an external Global HR Leadership Award for her work at PepsiCo, which the same year was also voted as Asia’s Most Women Friendly Employer by WIL Forum Asia, the Best Company for Women by AmCham and received the HKIHRM Award for excellence in Talent Management. In 2013 Alex received a PepsiCo Global HR Award for excellence in her work on a joint venture for the company’s Vietnam Beverage business.
Alex has been extremely adventurous in looking for opportunities to develop her professional career, and has changed the corporate world for the better through her initiatives to increase diversity.
“It is critical that we have a workforce that reflects the consumers we serve, and women dominate consumer purchasing decisions for food and beverages.
“As part of our talent management agenda, my team and I led programs that were recognised for increasing executive female representation to above 40 per cent in some markets, through a combination of flexible work practices, gender inclusion initiatives and we set targets in leaders annual objectives to improve female representation linked to their annual merit and bonus scores.
“Key to women’s leadership initiatives are including men, enlisting men to advocate for and pull more women up is critical. Other initiatives that have been impactful are gender intelligence workshops aimed at understanding and appreciating gender differences in the workplace, and fostering more gender inclusion.”
“We also support programs that address the gender imbalance in the workforce, such as encouraging girls to stay in school in Pakistan and encouraging mothers to return to work in India,” Alex says.
Alex believes having more female representation at board and executive levels, and supporting programs that allow women to balance work and family are the biggest challenges facing the corporate workforce.
“There is not enough critical mass of women influencing decisions around the table. I believe both lead and lag indicators are necessary, such as mentoring or sponsorship initiatives, and ensuring gender diverse slates in hiring as well as having representation KPI’s impacting leader’s performance ratings.
“Supportive programs that enable women to balance work and family are also critical to stop the leaking pipeline of women mid-career.”
Prior to moving to Dubai, Alex was based in Hong Kong as Senior Director Talent Management for PepsiCo’s Asia Pacific Region, encompassing 23 markets.
“I feel very fortunate to have lived in worked in Asia (Hong Kong) and now the Middle East (Dubai). My family have also benefited from the cross cultural experience living abroad and my nine year old son is almost fluent in Mandarin,” Alex says.
Her advice for women returning to the workforce following maternity leave is to keep in contact with management and take the initiative to communicate career aspirations.
“Try and stay in touch during any break in work. Returning to work post maternity leave can be daunting and for some it can be a whole new world, so maintaining contacts with colleagues and management can help ease the transition.
“Take the initiative to contact your manager regarding your return to work plan and take advantage of any flexibility options that the organisation may have. Once ready to get back on the track be bold and communicate your career goals with people of influence - don’t run the risk of assumptions being made about your career aspirations.
“For women - don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t have it all, you can with some trade-offs.”