- Ramon Laguarta, a 20-year veteran of PepsiCo, has been named the beverage giant's president — its #2 position, according to a company statement. Previously the CEO of PepsiCo's European/Sub-Saharan Africa division, he will be in charge of shaping the company's corporate strategy, working with business units to deliver top-line growth, driving productivity and investing in new areas of disruptive innovation.
- The position has been vacant for three years, The Wall Street Journal reported. Even though this kind of promotion may be setting Laguarta up to eventually take over the CEO's chair, current CEO Indra Nooyi told The Journal she intends on leading PepsiCo “for the foreseeable future.”
- Nooyi said this promotion, like others, is intended to "stretch" current execs at the company to prepare them to potentially take on larger leadership roles later. “There is no heir apparent,” she told The Wall Street Journal. “When the time comes for succession, whenever it is, I think the wonderful thing is our board is going to have so many people to choose from.”
At 61, Nooyi is still young and able to continue leading PepsiCo, but it makes sense for her to be thinking of the company's future beyond her tenure.
It's an interesting time for the soda industry, as the sugary drinks that were once beverage leaders fall out of favor with consumers. PepsiCo has focused on diversification — both through acquisitions and launches of alternative beverages. Last year, the company launched LIFEWTR, a premium enhanced water brand with an artistic bottle. And while Pepsi hasn't made any recent large acquisitions, its diversified portfolio — which includes Frito-Lay, Quaker Oats and Sabra hummus and dips — continues with its own innovation in different areas of snacking.
As Nooyi focuses on the future, she has chosen a deputy with a track record of success in Pepsi's present. While most of Laguarta's work has been in the beverage manufacturer's European division, he's risen through the ranks during the last two decades. He'd been CEO of PepsiCo Europe since January 2015. Sub-Saharan Africa was added to his territory in July 2015.
Laguarta has steered his division of Pepsi to profit growth. The Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa division saw some of the company's highest profit increases in the most recent earnings report. The main reason was productivity gains and restructuring, which are changes that Laguarta could bring to the beverage giant's United States headquarters.
A mind for growth, innovation and new perspective are all things that new leadership at soda companies need to have nowadays. Laguarta will have the chance to put his success in Europe to the test in the United States. And without an impending vacancy in the CEO's slot, this opportunity will give the brand more of a chance to grow — and the board the opportunity to see if Laguarta may eventually be up to the larger leadership challenge.