Interview with Charlotte Zelders – Head of Digital Acceleration, PepsiCo

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Charlotte Zelders is the Head of Digital Acceleration at PepsiCo. With a background in Psychology and a long career in Food marketing (eg developing award winning Doritos campaigns), Charlotte Zelders made the switch to Digital 3 years ago and is addicted to the forward thinking and steep learning curve ever since.

With a strong focus on people and the belief that digital technology is an enabler, not an objective on its own, Charlotte has built a continuous digital culture & capability program in an organization that has a strong appetite but low maturity in digital.  She experienced how to move people and also when stumbling blocks can occur.

Charlotte looks forward to sharing her learnings and exchanging thoughts with the Big Disruption audience on April 12th. Read her interview with Corporate Parity below.

 

Why is keeping up with Digital important even for established super-brands (such as Pepsi, Lay’s, Doritos and Quaker)?

 I think all brands have a responsibility to keep up with Digital, and since established super-brands are generally a bit behind the game, it takes an extra effort vs brands of young companies that carry less “weight of yesterday” and can focus on the future easier.

 Should corporates like PepsiCo take a different approach towards innovation?

 Yes, I think corporates should make an effort to learn from start-ups in terms of innovation. Start-ups 1) act small, 2) think big and 3) fail cheap or fail fast. Corporates lose a lot of resources by starting big instead of small. They often start huge projects with many resources, who prepare a launch for several years, and are then surprised the market momentum and customer-needs have changed. By iteratively adapting ideas based on customer-feedback or deciding quickly to quit an idea if it is not as great as expected, companies can be more fast, agile and relevant to their customers.

 What role does the People factor play in digital transformation?

 In my opinion digital transformation starts with people. They will make the change happen, so they need to believe change is necessary and understand what they can do to drive the change. From my experience, what can unlock this is to bring digital close to people and to make it fun and easy for them to join.

Which are new leadership skills needed to thrive in digital acceleration/disruption?

 During the Digital Disruption course @IMD I learned that agile leaders possess the following 4 leadership skills:

  • Humble: accepting feedback & acknowledging that others know more than you
  • Adaptable: accepting that changing your mind based on new information is a strength rather than a weakness
  • Visionary: having the courage to determine a long-term vision, even in the face of short-term uncertainty
  • Engaged: “We need to stop falling in love with our products but instead falling in love with our customers’ problem” – Eric Schmidt (former Chairman of Alphabet & Google)

 How have consumer values changed in the recent time? What defines the new Digital Consumer, and what does it take to reach one?

 End-customer expectations have significantly increased during the last years. They expect speed, ease, variety and sustainable products/services at a low price. For companies complexity has risen in correlation to the growing end-customer needs. The only thing companies can do is to be obsessed with the customer, start with their problem and then work backwards to solve them.

 The Digital age is defined by rapid technological progress, with innovations and new developments occurring faster and more frequently than ever before, affecting nearly all industries. Why is Disruption and rapid action especially important in this new environment?

 Disruption is happening in every industry. It is key that companies disrupt themselves instead of waiting to be disrupted by others.

 What do you look forward to the most at the upcoming Big Disruption Summit?

 I’m really looking forward to be inspired and learn from others during the event.

 

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