Not only was Maggie Kong the first Co-op student to helm PepsiCo’s campus recruitment program, she broke a hiring record while doing so.
UBC BCom student Maggie Kong entered Sauder’s Co-op program to gain experience outside of the classroom. Ironically, her placement at PepsiCo brought her right back to campus.
Kong was the first ever Co-op student to run PepsiCo’s campus leadership program. Designed to expedite high-potential new grads to the company’s top management, the program is a critical part of the company’s hiring strategy.
“To find top candidates is challenging, and then to find one that fits with your company is extremely challenging,” says Kong’s Co-op supervisor Nick Bateman. “Each year we have a target and it’s actually very difficult to hit our target because our bar is so high. We get hundreds of applicants but we end up in Western Canada only hiring about five or six.”
“Maggie began running the recruitment campaign and owned the screening and selection process,” he says. “She was able to secure a large group of very qualified candidates.”
Kong managed the job postings and budget, recruiting on campus, screening candidates and presenting management’s top picks to senior leadership.
“The main challenge I faced was reacting to the need for leadership for this campaign, and having the confidence to step up and lead the campaign,” Kong says.
Step up, she did. After recruiting and screening candidates herself, Kong organized a day-long conference for Canadian VPs to interview the best of the best.
"She organized the whole event so the VPs had an itemized agenda with everything down to the last minute detailed for them," says Bateman. "Not only did senior leadership say it was the best-run campus interview they did in the whole country, we were also the ones who brought in the most successful candidates that year."
They managed to secure a record-breaking number of hires.
“If I were to pick one person to attribute that success to it would be Maggie,” says Bateman. “I never even thought of her as a Co-op student, I always thought of her as a skilled co-worker.”
Kong’s work was so impressive, she was asked to share her strategy with other market units across Canada.
Over the course of three Co-op terms with PepsiCo, Kong filled more than 450 positions for the company, many of which were tough-to-fill roles in remote areas of Western Canada.
“When you get into some of the more rural areas it becomes challenging to find a new qualified worker and if you’re not properly staffed, you don’t have enough people to sell and deliver your products – that has very real consequences,” Bateman says. “Maggie was able to do proactive forecasting prior to our seasonal spikes to make sure we were well-prepared – and that impacts the business in a big way.”
Kong was given significant opportunities at PepsiCo right from the early days of her work term.
“On the third week of my Co-op, I was flown to Calgary to present the staffing process to all HR managers and directors in Canada West,” says Kong. “It was such a humbling experience for me as a Co-op who just began working. Pepsi really believes in their employees, and treats all Co-ops and interns no differently.”
Kong is in good company. As soon as she finished the BCom program, she joined fellow Sauder Co-op grad Kelly Hanson as a full-time member of PepsiCo.
“We have a great track record with Sauder,” Bateman says. “The students have been nothing but assets to us; they all have a really strong work ethic, they’re intelligent, organized, and well prepared to work in a corporate setting.”
Learn more about the Co-op Program
Students interested in the Sauder Co-op Program can learn more by attending an information session or by visiting the Co-op Program webpage.
Employers looking to hire a Co-op student can do so through the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre.