2012Oct 22

SPAD Speaker Series: Graham Sage & PepsiCo

PepsiCo leaders (including Graham Sage, SPAD’07, third from the right) and SPAD student leaders.

By SPAD Blogger Cameron Brooks

On Tuesday, October 16th the School of Sports Administration had its first installment of the 2012-2013 SPAD Speaker Series, featuring various leaders from PepsiCo. The group was led by 2007 SPAD Grad Graham Sage, who has been with the company for 5 years and has already been promoted twice. The presentation was roughly an hour long and focused on the different sales positions and opportunities offered by PepsiCo. The presentation had a real focus on leadership and how, when it comes to being in sales, the organization really looks for people who are leaders, and constantly promote young people into more leadership roles, as we see in Graham’s time with the company.

When asked why he wanted to come back to speak with current SPAD students, Graham’s response was “I don’t know what it exactly is, but for some reason SPAD Grads seem to be a good fit for our organization. It could be because many of our marketing plans are based around sports, we don’t actually know what the actual answer is, but for whatever reason they just seem to be a good fit.” One of these fits with PepsiCo has been Tom Greco (SPAD ’81), currently the President of Frito Lay North America, who has been one of the more successful SPAD grads in the program’s forty years.

Graham is also a good example of how the sports industry sometimes isn’t always going to work out for a person, which stresses the commerce degree aspect of SPAD. “I did actually start out in the sports industry with Tennis Canada, so I worked there for two summers. To be completely honest they didn’t have a lot of full-time positions, so I had friends who worked with Frito Lay for the summer, tell me about the job, and it seemed like an exciting fit for me.” The aspect of PepsiCo that was similar to the SPAD program was the real emphasis on interactions between co-workers and creating a tight knit environment within the organization. “Once I got into the company I got kind of addicted, and it’s the people that make that happen. It’s the people that you work with every day that are giving you those opportunities and they are all pretty positive people and it’s just a great work environment.” SPAD students and alumni know that the program and the people in it are like your family, so it’s clear to see that a positive and encouraging work environment is very attractive to our students

When we were able to ask Graham about what opportunities there were for graduating students with PepsiCo, he was able to give us some detail about the two avenues students would be able to take. “There’s the New Grad program which is more of a fast-track leadership program, so if you’re looking to get into a leadership role within sales then that is probably something for you. With that said, it’s a lot more competitive, you’re competing Canada-wide for a limited amount of positions. The other opportunity is the Front Line Sales role, which is a little slower in terms of getting you those leadership responsibilities, but you still get a lot of the same opportunities. Essentially what you’re doing is owning your entire business without putting the money down.” Graham also mentioned that there are summer positions for students who are looking to get a taste of what the company is like and what exactly a sales job entails.

We want to thank Graham and his colleagues very much for coming out to speak with the SPAD class; the presentation was very informative and definitely gave students another career opportunity to think about. PepsiCo and SPAD have always had a great relationship with recruiting future leaders, sponsoring various events, and supporting research and classroom learning. We wish Graham and PepsiCo the best in the future and hope to see them back at Laurentian again soon.

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