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Enrico, Roger - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Social and Economic Impact, Chronology: Roger Enrico

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Roger Enrico, chief executive officer of PepsiCo Inc., is credited with using brand-building to increase sales for the soft drink company and its affiliates. Enrico runs the company with a flair for the dramatic and a keen knack for image-making and profit building.

Personal Life

Enrico was born in 1945 in Chilsolm, Minnesota, where his father was a maintenance foreman at an iron-ore processing plant. When Enrico was in high school, his first job was at a local soft drink bottling plant. At the time, he could never have anticipated how soft drinks would ultimately factor into his future. Enrico was an average student, mostly preoccupied with leaving Minnesota. Offer of a full college scholarship to Babson College in Massachusetts gave him the chance he was looking for.

While at college, Enrico ran his fraternity and edited the college yearbook; he graduated in three years. Although he had not given much thought to his future, Enrico realized he enjoyed interacting with people, and working in the area of personnel seemed like a logical career choice. He was hired by General Mills to fill an opening in Minnesota. There, he reunited with his high school sweetheart, Rosemary Margo, whom he later married.

What seemed like a good career match turned out to be otherwise. Enrico was bored by the isolation of the personnel division and considered pursuing an MBA. Instead he attempted to join the Navy, but that did not work out either, when he failed the Navy’s test for colorblindness. Not wanting to remain stateside, Enrico volunteered for service in Vietnam in 1967. He was stationed in the northern part of South Vietnam and worked transporting fuel. When he returned from Vietnam, Enrico was hired again by General Mills, this time in their brand management division. Although he loved the work, he felt he was passed over for promotions because of his lack of educational credentials. He began sending his resume to headhunters across the country and was offered a job with the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo in Dallas. Initially, Enrico was wary about moving to Dallas because of the lingering memories of the recent assassination of President John F. Kennedy, for whom he had once campaigned. Enrico was able to put that behind him when he recognized that both Dallas and Frito-Lay were on the brink of enormous growth.

Enrico and Rosemary have one son, Aaron. The couple enjoys vacationing on Grand Cayman and Enrico is an avid scuba diver. The couple also owns a ranch in Montana.

While in Turkey in 1990, Enrico suffered a heart attack during a company tour. It was a sobering experience for the executive, prompting him to ultimately give up smoking.

Career Details

When he first began to work for PepsiCo, Enrico was an associate brand manager for Frito Lay onion-flavored snacks, Funyuns. Enrico enjoyed working at Frito Lay, and when he was 31, he was offered the job of president of PepsiCo Foods Japan. Japan was known to be a difficult, and in many ways bewildering market, but Enrico accepted the challenge, as it would be a valuable learning experience.

Ultimately, the Japanese venture was unsuccessful, but PepsiCo understood the difficulties and challenges of that market and did hold that experience against Enrico. First, he was reassigned to Brazil and then returned to the company’s marketing division in the United States. The company’s then-president, John Scully, appreciated Enrico’s aggressive marketing views. When Scully left the company to take over Apple Computers, Enrico was appointed to his position. He remained president and chief executive officer of beverages from 1983 to 1986. During that time, he began the Pepsi Challenge, forcing longtime rival Coca-Cola to come up with New Coke. Ultimately, his marketing idea boosted Pepsi sales.

In 1986 Enrico’s book, The Other Guy Blinked: How Pepsi Won the Cola Wars, was panned by critics who regarded Enrico as nothing more than an ego-driven executive. The experience made him leery of the media and he now shies away from press interviews. It also created additional tension between the two rival companies.

From 1991 to 1993, Enrico worked as chairman and chief executive officer of Frito-Lay and Pepsi Foods International. There, he encouraged the company to push forward with a line of healthy snacks and slashed domestic operations.

In 1994, Enrico took over the position he would hold until he was tapped for the CEO job—corporate vice chairman and chief of Worldwide Restaurants, a weak division in this corporate structure. Enrico began streamlining measures and reducing the number of units. The division had a 19 percent profit increase, with savings from operations estimated at more than $200 million. All of this was spearheaded by Enrico.

Not surprisingly, Enrico’s efforts had long been noticed. He was tapped to take over as CEO in 1996, when the current head, Wayne Calloway, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It took Enrico two weeks to decide whether or not he wanted to accept the position, as he was not sure that he wanted the responsibility that a CEO shoulders. The job, he once said, was nothing he had ever aspired to. Financially, PepsiCo made it worth his while. In 1997 Enrico was given a total compensation package of $2.8 million, which included his $900,000 base salary, plus bonuses. He stated that he planned to donate most of his actual salary to PepsiCo’s employee scholarship fund, which provided educational money for employees earning less than $60,000 a year.

Social and Economic Impact

Shortly after Enrico took over the CEO position from his relatively staid predecessor, he went into the ballroom of the Laguna Nigue, California Ritz Carlton escorted by a phalanx of white uniformed Star Wars storm troopers. As trumpets blared, Enrico took the stage and announced a coup: PepsiCo would join with George Lucas to promote the 1997 re-release of the smash science fiction trilogy, “Star Wars.” It was a heady moment for the beverage company accustomed to trailing behind rival Coca-Cola. It was also a moment which embodied Enrico’s style and his energy.

Chronology: Roger Enrico

1945: Born.

1972: Hired at Frito-Lay.

1991: Appointed chairman and chief executive officer of Frito-Lay and Pepsi Foods.

1994: Named corporate vice chairman and chief of Worldwide Restaurants with PepsiCo.

1996: Appointed CEO at PepsiCo.

In a company that values autonomy, Enrico is well-suited for the CEO position. In January of 1997, Enrico announced he would spin off the PepsiCo restaurant interests into an independent company. The more than 28,000 restaurants in question are Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut. By doing this, Enrico created a restaurant operation second only to McDonalds. He also elevated the Frito-Lay division of the company, which Enrico has said is like " the Coke of snack foods without a Pepsi." Wall Street analysts and market watchers had predicted this move once Enrico took over. Still, the announcement sent stock prices up 3.5 percent—this, after a three-year-period when the stock had risen only 18 percent over that period of time, compared to a 60 percent increase for rival Coca-Cola.

Since his appointment as CEO, onlookers have questioned how long Enrico will last in the job, not because of any failings on his part or on the part of the company, but simply because of his restless need to try something new. One close friend suggested Enrico might become a teacher or ultimately get a job in the entertainment industry. He claims he has every intention of staying with PepsiCo, where he’s been for a quarter of a century.

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