How One Senior Director Can Dare for Better at a Company That Matches Her Ambition

Sponsored by PepsiCo

Cynthia Dixon. Photo courtesy of PepsiCo.

Cynthia Dixon. Photo courtesy of PepsiCo.

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If you’re searching for a company that will help you maximize your ambition, then PepsiCo is the right place for you. At PepsiCo, you can “Dare for Better” and help build a world where there are more possibilities for more people, no matter what role you hold. 

From a variety of employee resource groups (ERGs) that help drive a culture of diversity, inclusion, and engagement to leadership programs that empower their employees to — together — make a positive impact for good. 

One person who has seen this support firsthand is Cynthia Dixon, the Senior IT Director of Enabling Functions at PepsiCo. During her noteworthy 27-year career at PepsiCo, Dixon has experienced impressive career growth. This was possible thanks to the company’s opportunities for continuous learning and development, ERGs, and exposure to leaders across all levels and departments. In fact, Dixon says the relationships and continuous opportunities for growth are what have kept her at PepsiCo for so long!

“There are many leaders at PepsiCo who have helped empower my career,” Dixon says. “They’ve done this through coaching, mentoring, encouraging autonomy, and sponsoring me in various leadership programs.  

Dixon shares more about how she’s followed her ambition and her best tips for others who dare to do better.

Dixon’s top tips for excelling and leading in the IT field.

As a leader in STEM, Dixon knows what it takes to enter and advance within this field. To grow in Information Technology,  her best advice is to find your slice of the PIE, which stands for Performance, Image, and Exposure. (Harvey J. Coleman, author of “Empowering Yourself, The Organizational Game Revealed”, developed the PIE theory. It states that performance is table stakes and only 10% of the consideration for promotion. Image (30%) and Exposure (60%) make up the remaining 90%.)

Performance is table stakes; you have to perform,” she says. “Image is your brand and what you are known for, and Exposure is required for your colleagues to know you and your interests, capabilities, and potential.”

In order to grow your slice of the PIE, Dixon suggests three key actions: Ensure your colleagues know you want to advance, get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and gain critical experiences across other functions and roles.

And this is just the beginning of Dixon’s ideas on how to grow a career that maximizes your ambition. She also shares five key traits to be successful in IT:

  1. A love of technology

  2. An understanding of the business and how to leverage technology appropriately

  3. The ability to think critically

  4. The ability to be a problem solver

  5. A focus on continuously learning

This last trait is particularly critical because technology is constantly changing. As such, Dixon emphasizes the importance of continuously gaining new experiences and skills to excel in fields like IT. She recommends trying out various roles with different capabilities, seeking a mentor, or networking with other professionals.

As for Dixon’s advice for growing into leadership in this field, it’s no surprise that she emphasizes: “What got you here, won't get you there.” In other words, your skills will need to grow and develop to become an IT leader.

“Your role will evolve from a doer to a leader who sets a clear vision, removes obstacles,   inspires, and guides others to accomplish goals,” she says. “It is important to continue to learn and understand technology offerings, as well as grow your business acumen and leadership skills.”

The importance of finding support that will help maximize your ambition.

“As you continue to grow in your career, don't let fear hold you back. Be smart, be humble, and be confident. Ask questions and ask for help when you need it. No one does it alone.” — Cynthia Dixon

One common thread throughout Dixon’s advice and career journey is reaching out to others for support in order to take charge of your professional journey. And, at PepsiCo, Dixon knows that no one is ever alone — the company continuously fosters a culture that empowers employees to achieve their full potential.

For her part, Dixon is continuing the PepsiCo tradition of uplifting others by supporting her team in their growth. She even tells us that personal and professional growth are the top benefits she hopes to give her direct reports. “I’m focused on supporting, empowering, and enabling my team,” says Dixon. She leads a successful team by focusing on respect and compassion for others, listening, having an open door policy, and communicating clear objectives and goals. This is just the beginning of how she and her team are supported at PepsiCo. Dixon's focus is on continued growth. "I envision continuing to advance within my career in an engaging role with broader responsibilities,” she shares. “These responsibilities could be across different business functions, lines of business, or globally." 

Dixon knows how important it is to ask for support and take charge of your career. For instance, Dixon also leveraged the ITSMF — Information Technology Senior Management Forum as an important resource. Since its formation in 1996, ITSMF has been the premier national organization dedicated exclusively to cultivating executive talent among Black technology professionals.

“I learned to think about the enterprise from a broader perspective, consider internal and external factors, strengthen my leadership capability, and expand my network across the organization,” Dixon shares about her ITSMF academy experience. These skills, which she gained by using outside resources, helped her excel as she grew her career and empowered her to dare for better.

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