Why PepsiCo hires 2,000 new grads every year regardless of economic conditions

Ronald Schellekens
Chief HR officer at PepsiCo, Ronald Schellekens.
Courtesy of PepsiCo

Good morning!

A recent conversation between Fortune’s Phil Wahba and PepsiCo’s CHRO Ronald Schellekens caught my attention. Schellekens shared that PepsiCo has never—and as far as he’s concerned, will never—waver on its unique commitment to hiring 2,000 U.S. graduates each year. Cut to my immediate reaction: In this economy? 

The conversation, part of an exclusive Fortune Connect panel, detailed how the food and beverage juggernaut stays true to its “people as assets” approach. “Many companies invest in management and leadership training, but few do it as systematically as PepsiCo,” wrote Phil in his December feature detailing the food and beverage giant’s leadership development strategy.

Though hiring 2,000 graduates annually is not a formalized commitment in writing, Schellekens says it’s necessary for building a robust talent pipeline. “That requires, I think, a kind of institutionalized culture where we say, ‘Okay, this is the belief of the company. This is how we build leaders for the future.’”

Many of today’s Fortune 500 CEOs had career pit stops at PepsiCo. There’s Brian Cornell at Target, Lauren Hobart at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Dave Kimbell at Ulta Beauty, to name a few. In total, 16 current Fortune 500 CEOs have previously worked at PepsiCo.

“Our early hiring programs are vital to this effort of building a pipeline, and we’re proud that we’ve been tracking roughly the same number over at least the past two recruitment cycles,” shared a spokesperson for PepsiCo. “This is purely based on hiring needs and the belief in our college [and] university hiring programs.”

PepsiCo’s approach to internal career growth has earned it the reputation of a “talent academy,” and it’s always assessing workers’ potential, Schellekens says. “We don’t like it when people leave our company and become CHRO or CEO of another company, but they always leave us for much bigger jobs…They always make a big jump.”

Amber Burton

Editor’s Note: Do you utilize A.I. in your people practice? Let us know! You could be featured in our upcoming edition of Fortune @ Work—a comprehensive package all about the future of HR.

Reporter's Notebook

The most compelling data, quotes, and insights from the field.

Many Americans who appeared to vanish from the workforce during the pandemic are trickling back into the workplace. Over four million workers were missing from the workforce in 2021. About 75% of them have now returned, and unemployment is back around pre-pandemic levels, according to a recent Washington Post analysis.

“Although workers have returned, they’ve switched industries and taken on new types of jobs, reshaping the contours of the economy.”

Around the Table

A round-up of the most important HR headlines, studies, podcasts, and long-reads.

- The more diverse a company, the more adaptable it is to change, new research finds. Harvard Business Review

- Many tech workers were attracted to the industry by compensation packages with generous stock options. Then tech stocks crashed. Wall Street Journal

- Some say the "Age of the Worker" is coming to an end as the economy slows and employers are forced to make cuts. The Guardian

- Some federal contractors with histories of workplace discrimination refuse to share diversity statistics with the government. USA Today


Everything you need to know from Fortune.

Think different. Apple CEO Tim Cook called mass layoffs a “last resort,” adding it isn’t something the company is considering now. —Nicholas Gordon

Office rebrand. Cisco transformed its offices into “collaboration centers,” with just 10% of space dedicated to individual work. —Orianna Rosa Royle

Record unemployment. Last month's unemployment rate was at 3.4%—a 54-year low—as the U.S. added 253,000 jobs. —Paul Wiseman

Feeling productive. CEOs attribute productivity declines to remote work, but it could also be due to the “tremendous” amount of turnover in the labor market, says EY’s chief economist. —Jane Thier

Welcome to suburbia. Remote work is prompting millennials to move to the suburbs, according to research from Bank of America. —Chloe Berger

This is the web version of CHRO Daily, a newsletter focusing on helping HR executives navigate the needs of the workplace. Today’s edition was curated by Paolo Confino. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

Read More

CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet