Whether you feel like you’ve achieved a healthy work-life balance or you’re constantly struggling to make it work, chances are you know what it feels like to juggle multiple priorities — simultaneously — in both your professional and personal spheres. Suneetha Nalla, who works in information security, says this balancing act can be particularly tricky in her field, since the nature of security work is so dynamic.
At PepsiCo, though, where Suneetha works as a Director of Information Security, finding and maintaining balance has never been easier. “My managers and the senior leadership team at PepsiCo have offered the right work-life balance and have been supportive of my personal development,” she says, adding that the company’s values — which align with her own — go a long way in motivating her and her colleagues.
Suneetha recently shared with Fairygodboss what drew her to PepsiCo and why she’s stayed, why she finds her company’s culture so appealing, and actionable tips for women who are navigating uncharted territories at work.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in being a woman in Information Security?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced in Information Security, as well as in other roles over the years, is balancing the demands of work and life, given that security is dynamic and ever-changing. I’ve realized that I need to be proactive about my own work-life balance and that the manifestation of that balance will vary depending on where I am both personally and professionally.
How has PepsiCo been a particularly supportive place to work?
My managers and the senior leadership team at PepsiCo have offered the right work-life balance and have been supportive of my personal development through effective/direct feedback through our HR processes, including mid-year and year end check-ins. I’ve been very fortunate to have such great leaders who have encouraged me to grow in areas that help me inspire my team – I often feel like I have the opportunity to pass my leaders’ support down to my team members.
How is the sense of support you’ve felt reflective of PepsiCo’s overall culture/policies?
At PepsiCo, the leadership team encourages cultural values that resonate with my own beliefs (some specific PepsiCo values are “Own It, Be Bold,” and “Win Together”). Keeping these beliefs in mind helps us to achieve our goals in the organization by delivering key results.
What initially drew you to PepsiCo? And what’s one of the most amazing things about your workplace that you didn’t learn until working there?
I was drawn to PepsiCo through strong network connections and because of the company’s brand. I also found the nature of security work — and the transformation journey the team was going through — interesting. Moreover, I was excited to have opportunities to expand my skill set and career growth. The diversity of projects and the challenges I have been presented with have helped me grow as a person and helped push me out of my comfort zone.
What are three things you make sure to do each workday before you disconnect?
Being a woman who wears multiple hats, I think through my work schedule and personal schedule to ensure both professional and personal commitments are met, including being there for my family and friends.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s former Chairman, has said, “you cannot have it all.” You always need to figure out what’s the priority for the situation you are in and make the appropriate choice.
What are some of your tips for women who are navigating uncharted territories at work?
Surround yourself with a good team and mentors to help you through your personal and professional goals. Know your function, be confident in what you do, and go by facts. Learn from your mistakes and be a lifelong student. Understand and acknowledge all roads are not going to yield in a perfect situation, but be open to ambiguity and believe in yourself.
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