How Returning to My Company Truly Felt Like 'Coming Home Again’ — From a Director

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Laura Saeva

Photo courtesy of PepsiCo.

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For Laura Saeva, Director of Consumer Insights and Innovation, PBNA West Division (Los Angeles), returning to PepsiCo after time working elsewhere “truly felt like coming home again.” The Boomerang employee loves the people, her position and the environment at PepsiCo.

As for her unusual career trajectory, Saeva says that, “I’m really proud of my Boomerang status at PepsiCo and that I’ve had the opportunity to work across most of our beverage brands in vastly different categories. I think that leaving the company and then coming back with external experience gives me a unique perspective.”

And, not only was Saeva able to return to PepsiCo, she’s proud of her choice to leave — and how easy it was to return. “I am also proud of the fact that I was able to take a few years off when I had babies and a spousal expat assignment, and then come back to my career with minimal set-backs,” notes Saeva. "I think it’s important for women (and men!) to know that your career can adapt as your priorities and circumstances in life evolve.”

In this interview, she discussed her job, her team and her career trajectory.

Tell me about your job.

My team works to help our marketing department, as well as the broader organization, factor our end consumers into every business decision that they make. This means understanding how they feel about not only our products, but also their favorite team, their families, their hobbies and activities — all about their lives! 

We use that knowledge to build marketing programs that will really help us to connect with our consumers in a meaningful way. We’re also responsible for innovation, which means thinking about any unfulfilled needs of our consumers that we can address with new packaging or products.

As a highly curious individual, this role is very fulfilling because I am constantly learning and I always get to ask: “Why?” 

What’s the first (and/or last) thing you do at work every day?  

  • First thing: Check my calendar and address any urgent requests. 

  • Last thing: Check my calendar to ensure that I’m set up for the next day. (There’s lots of calendar management!)

Let’s talk about your career path. When did you first come to work for your company and in what role? 

I started at PepsiCo in 2003, working on the beverage business for a large customer team in Bentonville, Arkansas. It was a category management role, which meant that I focused on sales and space analysis to determine which products the customer should carry and which products our team and bottlers should prioritize. 

Why did you leave, and what ultimately made you come back?

I left the company because on that particular team, I felt like there was limited opportunity to move into a more traditional insights role that would give me the foundational skills and training I needed to build my career. 

I came back because I love the competitive spirit and drive at PepsiCo, and the endless opportunities that the organization provides to work on different brands, customers, markets and priorities.

Tell me about those first few weeks back. What had changed and what had stayed the same?  

In the roughly 10 years I was gone, so much had changed; yet, in some ways, it felt like very little did. The biggest change was that the company was structured differently, which meant that we were able to spend more time focusing on our consumers.

What stayed the same was the incredibly smart people who work here. I am able to learn so much from being exposed to different perspectives and ways of thinking.

Laura Saeva. Photo courtesy of PepsiCo.

What’s your favorite aspect of your company’s culture and/or your favorite company perk? 

The passion and pride that are so evident in our employees, from senior executives to the frontline, makes us a powerful organization that I’m really proud to be a part of. I’m also very proud of the commitment to promoting equality and raising awareness for social issues, including the preservation of our planet. 

What’s something you’re especially good at when it comes to work?  

Reminding my team that they do not think like an average consumer. 

What about outside of work?

I’m a pretty good cook — and when I’m not cooking, I’m really good at eating what other people have made. ? 

What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?

Focus on progress, not perfection. 

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