What is PepsiCorps Doing in New Mexico?

Most of CDS’ International Corporate Volunteer programs undertake projects in emerging markets around the world, but more recently, we have been developing a number of U.S.-based programs to support communities in need.  This year, PepsiCo continued their leadership development program, PepsiCorps, to support an international clean water project based in Bhorugram, India while also undertaking a domestic project in Albuquerque, NM.

Over the past three months I’ve had the pleasure of managing PepsiCorps’s programs in both India and Albuquerque, from the preparatory phase to the teams’ on-site arrivals on October 11.  Even though they are a world apart geographically, it’s been remarkable how similar the New Mexico project is to our other international corporate volunteer programs—a reminder that issues around development are not confined to places beyond our borders.

“PepsiCo is a global company operating in over 200 countries, with half of our revenues coming from outside the US. While the initial inclination was for PepsiCorps to carry out sustainable development projects internationally, we must remember that there are also critical societal challenges to tackle in the United States. It is important for PepsiCo to support the needs that exist domestically as well as internationally.”  
- Emily Kiely, Co-Founder of PepsiCorps

Working in consultation with PepsiCo’s Native American Employee Resources Group, RISE, we identified an Albuquerque-based, Native American-focused client—the Albuquerque Indian Center (AIC)—with needs in line with PepsiCorps program objectives.

Like our international partners, the AIC demonstrated a willingness to work with us to develop a detailed, demand-driven scope of work that would draw on the skills of the PepsiCorps participants.  More than that, AIC was eager to incorporate feedback from the eight-person PepsiCorps team, responding right away to the many insightful questions.  Overall, AIC has been a model partner for our U.S. domestic program pilot.

AIC and PepsiCo had aligned desires to build a community garden and health and wellness program to support the urban population of Native Americans in Albuquerque—many of whom struggle outside the close-knit support system of the reservation.  We developed two New Mexico PepsiCorps projects around the PepsiCorps program areas of agriculture, and health and wellness, which are tied to the company’s Performance with Purpose commitments.

While efforts primarily go toward working on projects with the AIC, the PepsiCorps team dedicates twenty percent of their time to a service-based project.  Every Friday over the course of the project duration, the New Mexico team visits with leadership from one of six different local Native American Pueblo communities, working with the AIC to assess their messaging and community outreach to Pueblos who live outside the reservation.

As an international, assignment-based leadership development program, PepsiCorps is comprised of cross-cultural, cross-functional teams, with typically half of the participants coming from countries outside the United States. Regardless of location— domestic or international—the design of this program enables PepsiCo employees to gain real-world insights, enhanced leadership skills and a global perspective from working on-the-ground in a local community and among a diverse group of colleagues.

AIC has warmly welcomed the PepsiCorps team made up of employees from the U.S., Pakistan, the U.K., the U.A.E. and Lebanon, with expertise including research science, sales, marketing, human resources, finance and IT.  The impact of the program is already being felt as highlighted by one of the participants:

“While no amount of research or pre-read could prepare us for this emotional awakening, I believe, even more firmly today than yesterday that what we are here to do this month is not only a personal and professional learning experience for us but also a contribution that we owe to the world.”
- Faraz Raja, Director, HR, AMEA and PepsiCorps Albuquerque participant

The team has almost completed their third week of service, and they have already accomplished a great deal. I hope to share even more stories of our volunteers’ experiences once the project is complete. Based on this project’s initial success, I know this will be the first of many teams of corporate volunteers CDS will field to other U.S.-based locations.

You can follow the activity of the PepsiCorps teams in Albuquerque and India at http://pepsicorps.tumblr.com and on Twitter.

Eric Schroeder

Eric Schroeder

As a Key Client Manager at PYXERA Global, Eric works with senior leadership to implement corporate social responsibility programs for the private sector focused on engagement in emerging markets, leadership development, and responsible supply chain development. Eric’s professional interests include driving new market growth, creating opportunities for engagement across sectors and measuring the impact of these efforts. Eric has deep personal and professional experiences in experiential learning such as Outward Bound, study abroad, and Peace Corps. He has worked in the US, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Guatemala, and is fluent in Spanish.

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