Food In Canada

Who’s Who 2024: Rachel Ferdinando, president, PepsiCo Foods Canada

By Treena Hein   

Food In Canada Food Trends Women in Manufacturing Beverages Editor pick Pepsi

Discover how PepsiCo Foods Canada’s president is championing her frontline employees and fostering a culture of inclusivity

Touching people’s lives with products that impact them in a positive way—this is among the most critical daily commitments of Rachel Ferdinando, president of PepsiCo Foods Canada (PFC).

“I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to work on products that make people’s lives better and/or bring them moments of joy,” she says. “I am excited every day to work with the countless PFC brands that people know and love.”

Ferdinando has been president of PFC since 2022, a role that includes leadership of Frito Lay Canada and Quaker Canada. Previously, she was chief marketing officer of Frito-Lay North America. Prior to joining PepsiCo, she was VP and global sector leader for family care at Kimberly-Clark Corporation. Throughout her career, Ferdinando was able to work all over the world, giving her “a unique perspective as a leader,” while also “enriching my ability to connect with people anywhere I go.”

After becoming PFC president, Ferdinando connected with as many PFC employees as possible. She led a national listening tour, visiting all company regions and plants with a focus on hearing from frontline employees. This resulted in her creation of a new vision for PFC, along with more investment in expanding employee recognition and appreciation.

Last year, Ferdinando connected with every Frito Lay Canada plant team and region zone team across the nation.

“I was also fortunate to visit the impressive family farms where we source our ingredients,” she shares. “I’ve learned so much about the end-to-end journey of our products and the broader and very dynamic Canadian food system. Spending time with the hard-working people who make, move, and sell our products is one of the best parts of my job.”

Always a learner

Regarding those products, Ferdinando is very proud of her team’s commitment to consumer-centric innovation. “With the strong diversity that’s present in Canada, we’ve innovated products to meet the unique preferences of multicultural Canadians,” she says, “whether it’s through new, bold flavours or using successful flavours from other markets.”

Ferdinando explains that continuous learning is essential for her.

“I take the opportunity to learn from everyone I meet,” she says. “I also like to tap into my science training to break down complex problems and explore them in different ways. The more I learn, the more I can help others grow and succeed. Leadership as PFC president means uplifting those around me. I’m passionate about continuing to support the advancement of women and our inclusive culture at PFC, as well as efforts to enhance employee wellness, including clear boundaries between work and home life.”

Ferdinando is excited to continue realizing her company’s vision to inspire more joy for tomorrow’s food experiences, sustainably.

“Where we go is very much a team approach, grounded in our field-first culture,” she says. “We have strong plans in place to build on some of the incredible work we’ve already delivered and become bigger and better than ever before. My top goal is removing barriers for our valued frontline colleagues who make up about 90 per cent of our employees. I want to ensure PFC is a great place to work for everyone, especially the frontline, and I will continue to listen and engage with those colleagues going forward.”

This article was originally published in the April/May 2024 issue of Food in Canada.

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