How does a major American soft drink brand reposition itself in a changing global market? With headquarters located in an increasingly health-conscious nation, and with new markets opening up as far away as Russia, how can a soda distributor stay competitive and maintain brand strength? These are some of the issues facing The Pepsi Bottling Group (PBG) today, as discussed by president and chief executive officer Eric Foss.

Foss talking to students
Pepsi Bottling Group President and CEO Eric Foss spoke to Mays MBA students about developing leadership skills.

Foss visited the Texas A&M campus recently to address MBA students at Mays Business School about Pepsi, leadership, and responsible business. Underscoring his message was a check for $10,000 Foss presented on behalf of PBG to Mays students for The Big Event, a student-organized community service project that involves more than 10,000 Aggies.

Foss talked about global dynamics that affect his business and gave the MBA students a look into his company as a compelling place to launch and build a career. His main message, though, was to seek opportunities to develop one’s leadership skills. With honest examples from his own life, Foss illustrated the importance of effective communication and management. “To me, leadership is the most important dimension in business today,” he said, challenging students to assess themselves in several leadership areas.

“The road to success as a leader is filled with failure,” said Foss, recounting mistakes he has made on the road to the boardroom, including one earlier in his career that lost the company a lot of money. “You need to embrace that failure and understand that it is just delayed success.”

Donation check
Foss presented a check for $10,000 to The Big Event on behalf of PBG.

Foss has been with PBG (which Pepsico spun off as an independent company in 1999) since 1982. He has held a variety of positions with increasing responsibility within the company, including general manager of Pepsi-Cola’s Central Europe business, and vice president of retail strategy for Pepsi-Cola North America. In July 2006, Foss was elected to his current position as head of the company.

Though he is not an Aggie (he holds a BS in marketing from Ball State University) Foss is an A&M supporter, is married to an Aggie, and is an Aggie dad.

Foss also serves on the board of directors of United Dominion Realty Trust, Inc., and on the industry affairs council of the Grocery Manufacturers of America. In his spare time, he coaches 7th grade girls basketball.