Keep an open mind on your career journey. That’s just one piece of advice Frito-Lay’s Laura Maxwell offered Business Honors students. She serves as the senior vice president of the Transformation Integration Office at Frito-Lay, and executive sponsor of their Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN).
After Maxwell recently took time away from her busy schedule to visit with students at Mays Business School, they said they appreciated her candor and thoughts on preparing for a career after business school.
Angela Lowak ’16, a junior Business Honors major, said Maxwell’s talk was the best professional development event she has attended. Lowak said it helped her make some decisions about her own career path. “I have been debating between finance and supply chain, and after listening to her I concluded supply chain was the best route for me,” she said. “Most importantly, I learned that if I make the wrong decision, it isn’t the end of the world. I just need to be adaptive and eager. I also learned the importance of evaluating each year individually. In fact, I need to do a better job of focusing on the short-term goals rather than basing everything off of the long term.”
Maxwell’s background includes engineering and supply chain, and now, she has transitioned into more of a business management role. Her current responsibilities include the development and leadership of all business transformation activities and she works closely with external partners to develop new strategies and manage business implementations.
Maxwell’s career with parent company PepsiCo has spanned 25 years so far. Most recently she led the Supply Chain Growth and Commercialization team, where she was responsible for Product Supply, Service to Sales, Asset Strategy, Economic Development and Supply Chain capability to support Customer Growth. She began her PepsiCo career as an Operations Resource and spent 17 years in field manufacturing roles prior to coming to Frito-Lay’s headquarters in Plano. Her previous roles include Director of Manufacturing, Senior Director Supply Chain and VP Marketing Services.
Her connection to WIN as the executive sponsor is a welcome activity she says illustrates the company’s culture. “It is a great company and a fun company,” Maxwell explains. “We make Mountain Dew and Doritos – products people know and love.” She advised the students to find an activity or area of their jobs that they enjoy and are passionate about.
Maxwell lives in Plano with her husband, Marty, and two daughters, Maddy (19) and Molly (16). She has relocated several times for her work, and encouraged the students to think about whether relocation is an option in advance of being asked to move. “When considering a job, consider whether or not you are willing to move for that company,” she said. “Have that conversation before it becomes a hard conversation.”
She also advised asking questions during the interview such as, “Hypothetically, where could I be in four years?” and to understand the company’s culture as deeply as possible.
Sarah Solcher ’15, a senior Business Honors and management major, said she considered Maxwell informative, candid and insightful. “She had great wisdom about navigating corporate life with personality, professionalism and passion,” she said. “She encouraged success in the traditional workforce, but also challenged us in that success may be found in taking a road less traveled.”
Michael Formella ’18, a freshman Business Honors major, called Maxwell “an impressive, distinguished executive who was very professional yet casual and down-to-earth all the same.”
“Her easy-going speaking style and simple presentation were straightforward and easy to obtain valuable information from, and not only just advice for business, but also for life,” he said. “In fact, Ms. Maxwell gave advice to ‘not worry so much about your first job,’ as she had a degree in engineering before joining Frito-Lay and working her way up.”
He cited three pieces of advice Maxwell offered:
- Choose one thing besides school or work that you enjoy doing and, do it;
- Surround yourself with positive people;
- Know that there will probably be a curveball. Plan for it.
“In life, you never know what to expect,” Formella explained, “but with these three things in mind, Ms. Maxwell explained that you will be happy and content with your professional life, and your personal life will follow suit.”
ABOUT MAYS BUSINESS SCHOOL
Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School educates more than 5,900 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in accounting, finance, management, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management. Mays consistently ranks among the top public business schools in the country for its undergraduate and MBA programs, and for faculty research. The mission of Mays Business School is creating knowledge and developing ethical leaders for a global society.