Anne Fink ’85, P17
President of Global Foodservice, PepsiCo
“One of my mentors has been a real model for servant leadership. This notion of putting others first stands out to me: just because you’re at the top of the organization, doesn’t mean that people are serving you.”
On April 1, 2019, Ciocca Center Student Intern Sarah Anderson ’20 interviewed Anne to learn about her journey in the food and beverage industry. Anne is the President of Global Foodservice at PepsiCo and is a member of the Holy Cross Board of Trustees.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always know you wanted to work in the food and beverage industry? I grew up in a business family. My father and mother started a business when I was in grade school and it ended up being a family affair. It was a company called Mats Incorporated, a commercial floor matting business. My father started it from the trunk of his car selling doormats to businesses. Little by little, he grew the business into a pretty large and successful entity. Actually, my three brothers own the business and run it today and they have hundreds of employees. My mother would type the invoices at night and I used to help her. So, it was very much a family business. I grew up interested in business, curious and involved. I knew I liked business and was interested in pursuing a career in it. I had a good feeling for that pretty early on in life.
Who or what inspired you to enter the business world? It was definitely my parents. My dad was quite enterprising, started the business out of necessity, then really built it. I think I took after him in many ways in terms of having a enterprising outlook. My mother was in a very different area, she was a nurse. She was caring and others-centered, always focused on other people. When you take that combination of an enterprising entrepreneurial spirit and caring for others and you put that together, it can really be quite powerful. It’s been very meaningful to me as I think of who I am, how I grew up, and the kind of business person that I aspire to be. It’s kind of at the core of what the Ciocca Center is all about – thinking about the people in businesses and societies and carrying out business in an ethical way.
What were the steps along the way to becoming President of Global Foodservice? Was this a goal of yours? I started my career in business right out of Holy Cross. I interviewed on campus and got a job at E&J Gallo Winery in a role in the Management Development Program. I moved to California and it was a great start to my career. They had a great training program, I learned about selling, learned about managing people, learned about business. A few years later, I was recruited by PepsiCo and I’ve gone on to do a lot of different things over the years with PepsiCo. Every two or three years I seem to get a different role. I have a broad set of experiences in sales, marketing and operations, and I was able to bring all of that together. It really was a matter of taking on additional responsibility, learning a lot in every role that I was in, building upon that, and putting in hard work.
I was fortunate to be in a position to take on this role as President of Global Foodservice. This role combines so many of the areas that I’ve been able to develop in over the years: sales, marketing, operations, strategy, insights and it’s the combination of many things that I’ve learned along the way. The role itself is all about building PepsiCo’s business in hospitality, restaurants, and entertainment segments where consumers are away from home and consuming our products. My role is to ultimately deliver the business results as well as develop our next generation of leaders.
How instrumental were you in the switch from Coke to Pepsi on HC’s campus in July 2015? I don’t know if I was very instrumental, but the team from PepsiCo put a very compelling proposition in front of the decision makers and they ran a very good process and made the decision very much independent of me. I’m proud of our team. They showed why the full PepsiCo portfolio, that includes Pepsi and Mountain Dew and also our better-for-you products in terms of Aquafina Water, Lipton Tea, Naked Juice as well as Gatorade for sponsoring the sports program are a great fit for Holy Cross. The team put that together, they did it all and I was just happy that it all came together.
How do you balance your time to the National Restaurant Association Board and Holy Cross Board as well as devoting time to you role at PepsiCo? One of the biggest challenges is managing time and it’s something that you also learn over time how to do better. I’m still always trying to work on it. It starts with having a very clear set of priorities in life, how you manage life, work, family: having a clear view of what’s most important. Then, managing the calendar to reflect those priorities is essential. Advanced planning is really critical. Holy Cross Board meetings book two years in advance, so we know what the calendar looks like. I’m able to put those meetings as a priority on the calendar and most boards operate that way. Then in leading my business, I basically have my calendar a year out planned with all of the major things. There’s a cadence to business that needs to be part of the planning as well. I always need to juggle things that come up. Certainly with family, there’s important family milestones, whether it’s birthdays or graduations or anniversaries and special events, that always needs to hold a priority on my calendar as well. Advanced planning is really essential and constantly prioritizing what’s most important.
In addition to advance planning, how would you describe your leadership style and how do you measure leadership success? I always say people first, results always, a customer is why, do it the right way, and have fun. Those are the principles that I operate under.
- It starts with putting “people first” and making sure that I’m putting the right people in the right roles and then supporting them to be successful. I put that first because in running a business, when you have the right people who are engaged and motivated and empowered, then the “results can come”.
- The second piece is always focusing on what success looks like and making sure that plans are in place to deliver on that.
- The third is “customer is why” because the customers drive our business. I think it’s really important to have a customer centric organization, always putting the customer needs first.
- The “do it the right way” is all about operating with honesty and integrity. I think, as a leader, it’s one of the most important things, the most important thing actually to model because integrity trickles down in an organization. Modeling honesty and integrity and being unwavering in that area is absolutely essential.
- And then the “have fun” part is about how people work really hard. They spend a lot of their waking hours working and I think it’s important for people to enjoy themselves, to smile, to laugh, to enjoy their colleagues. I try to foster an environment where that happens, that’s how I operate.
In your recent commencement address to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in July 2018, you reminded the students that they will meet people throughout their careers that will leave an impact and teach them something. With the people that you have encountered, what is one lesson about the life or the business world that has stuck with you? I have been really fortunate to work with some amazing people, amazing executives and I learned something from everyone. One of my mentors has been a real model for servant leadership. This notion of putting others first stands out to me: just because you’re at the top of the organization, doesn’t mean that people are serving you. You really need to put yourself in a position where the people on the front line of the business are the ones that you are serving. This particular mentor has modeled that his entire career and it’s been really meaningful to me to be able to watch that and to emulate that as much as I can. Something that has stuck with me is the notion of servant leadership and focusing on the people on the front line being the ones, that as leaders, we all need to serve so that they can do their jobs optimally and have meaningful careers as well.
As an alum of Holy Cross, and a current board member, what advice do you give to Holy Cross students aspiring to work in the food and beverage industry? First of all, I’d say you’re getting a Holy Cross education and to take full advantage of that. That means, take classes that are meaningful to you. Explore a variety of disciplines, the interconnectivity of those will really mean something. If you’re interested in business, take classes that can help you in that area or engage in the business certificate programs through the Ciocca Center under Professor Chu. Take full advantage of all that, in addition to a interdisciplinary curriculum that will make you very knowledgeable and interesting. Start engaging early in terms of looking for an internship, sophomore year, junior year and do lots of research. Leverage your Holy Cross network: people want to help, people will engage, and it’s one of the most powerful alumni networks that exist today. I would encourage people to take advantage of that network in general for pursuing a career in business, but certainly within the food and beverage industry.
Since you joined the Board in fall 2011, what subcommittees have you served on and how have you seen the board transition? I have served first on the buildings and grounds subcommittee and I’m now the chair of the buildings and grounds committee. I’ve been on the institutional advancement committee. I’m also now a member of the executive committee of the board and I’ve been a co-chair of the Become More comprehensive campaign.
The board is made up of just a tremendous group of people from different industries, different backgrounds, some Holy Cross alums, and some who are not Holy Cross alums. Meeting and engaging with these people has been one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. I have learned so much and have developed lifelong friendships and bonds with people. It’s actually been an absolutely tremendous experience. I’ve also been able to work with now three different board chairs, each one of them, really remarkable people who are so dedicated to Holy Cross and providing leadership as the chair of the board: Kevin Condron ’67 P00, John Mahoney ’73 P13, 00, and now Rick Patterson ’80. I’ve been really touched and impressed by all three of them. Working with Fr. Boroughs has been such a gift and such a privilege because he really is a special person, amazing leader, and he’s doing a tremendous job navigating the college through challenges and great opportunities. It’s been a blessing to be able to get to know him and work with him.
What is your favorite memory from Holy Cross and your time spent on Mount St. James? Well, I have so many great memories. The friendships that I developed at Holy Cross are so meaningful, such strong bonds. We’ve maintained the friendships, it was great being at the BC v. Holy Cross game in the fall. We had a tailgate with group of my great friends and classmates and took a photo with our class of 85 sign. It’s amazing to think so much time has passed, but the friendships have stayed strong and they’ve been very special.
Thanks for reading! Cassie
Cassie Gevry, Associate Director of Student Engagement
Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics, and Society