Career success | Co-op student helps optimize PepsiCo Canada's campus recruiting


When PepsiCo sought to evaluate and optimize their Western Canada campus recruiting strategy, it hired Amanda Feng, a 4th year Bachelor of Commerce Co-op student from the Sauder School of Business at UBC to help execute this project.

Pepsi, Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Lay’s, Doritos and Aquafina – these are just of few of the globally-recognizable and respected brands falling under the portfolio of PepsiCo Canada (part of multinational PepsiCo Inc.). Contributing to the success of these leading food and beverage brands are the Canadian division’s nearly 10,000 employees. To ensure its continued success, PepsiCo Canada strives to attract, retain and develop the best and freshest talent from across Canada. The company looks to top national universities to find bright, motivated students and recent graduates to fill coveted roles in their sales and operations teams.

Building campus recruiting relationships

Amanda was hired for an eight-month work term with the Human Resources Department at PepsiCo Canada’s Calgary Office. As a Co-op student specializing in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources, she was keen to leverage the skills and experience she gained from the BCom program and her previous work term (at HSBC Canada) in her new role at PepsiCo.

Amanda set to work researching PepsiCo’s Western Canada core campus recruiting strategy, which had traditionally focused its efforts on three Western Canadian Universities – University of Alberta, University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia. She sought to answer two key questions:

  1. Were they targeting the right schools? Did the schools offer programs that supported the skill development PepsiCo was looking for in its hires? And did PepsiCo's recruitment process succeed in identifying quality candidates that were a good fit for the company?

  2. Was their messaging getting to the right students? Was PepsiCo making use of all activities and resources available to maximize the effectiveness of their recruiting strategy?

Project results and recommendation

After extensive qualitative and quantitative data analysis, Amanda presented her findings and recommendations to the PepsiCo Western Canada Area Business Team. Her report showed that they were, in fact, targeting the right schools, and were very successful at recruiting qualified candidates for operations roles (mainly from the Alberta schools, UBC’s Engineering department and Sauder’s TLOG specialization). 

However, she also found that PepsiCo was not nearly as successful at reaching candidates for sales positions. To resolve this issue, Amanda suggested the company increase its brand presence on campus by building strategic relationships with key contacts and sales-related programs within its target schools.

Sales opportunities

At PepsiCo Canada, experience in a front-line sales role is essential to one’s growth within the company, whether it be laterally into human resources or marketing departments, or vertically into leadership and executive roles. An understanding of these operations is vital to all roles at PepsiCo, even in Amanda’s HR Co-op role. Part of Amanda’s training included two days in a sales role – an opportunity that, she says, taught her “how sales linked into the bigger picture of PepsiCo’s operations” and “ultimately helped [her] do [her] job better.” 

Sauder students, particularly those with a marketing specialization, are prime candidates for PepsiCo’s sales roles and yet, there was no established program to connect with this talent.

Armed with Amanda’s recommendations and her connections to the Sauder community, PepsiCo established a partnership with the Brand Management Mentorship Program (BMMP) and Assistant Professor of Sauder’s Marketing Division, Tim Silk. The program helps to prepare 3rd and 4th year BCom students for recruitment in marketing and brand management roles and with CPG companies. As a program partner, PepsiCo will provide BMMP students with key industry insights into the sales and growth opportunities within CPG companies.

“There’s some fantastic work being done at Sauder to build student awareness that possibilities exist for rewarding and challenging careers in the fields of sales and customer development. PepsiCo Canada wants to attract the best and brightest for these roles because they have the potential to be the future leaders in our organization. The BMMP program helps us build dialogue with students in that journey,” says Erin Eros, Human Resources Manager – Western Canada, and Amanda's supervisor.

Amanda paved the way for this new campus initiative and was responsible for orchestrating a similar initiative at the University of Alberta. Eros says “Amanda made great progress at UBC and helped us focus on where we can create partnerships to build sales careers with new graduates. Her insights and research really opened the door to these opportunities and has had significant impact on our campus strategy.”

By helping PepsiCo Canada optimize their campus recruitment and grow their workforce of fresh, young talent, Amanda has contributed to the lasting and future success of PepsiCo Canada. She has also gained valuable skills and hands-on experience that will, without question, help her define and succeed in her future career. “PepsiCo Canada is a fantastic company,” enthuses Amanda.