Eugene Willemsen, PepsiCo chief executive, Africa, Middle East, South Asia, recently addressed the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology’s annual Winter Enrichment Program 2022.
The KAUST Winter Enrichment Program is a series of lectures held during KAUST’s academic year aimed at educating, inspiring and enriching the university’s class of 2021-2022, members of its community and external guests, with this year’s event held under the theme of “Resilience.”
In his speech, Willemsen spoke about the need to future-proof organizations from tipping points such as climate change, pandemics, and resource shortages to ensure they are resilient to future challenges. He told the audience: “At the center of PepsiCo’s long-term strategy is our commitment to the planet and people, which we have made clear through PepsiCo Positive (pep+), our company-wide strategy placing sustainability at the center of how we will create value and growth. Promoting sustainable agriculture is key to our company’s future growth and we are therefore making investments now to ensure that our operations are shielded from adverse events.”
He outlined how pep+ has been developed as an end-to-end strategic business transformation program, which will embrace regenerative agriculture, reduce virgin plastic use, and evolve PepsiCo’s food and beverage portfolio with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2040 and becoming net water positive by 2030.
In terms of the company’s commitment to Saudi Arabia, Willemsen reiterated PepsiCo’s target to replenish 100 percent of the water it consumes for its snacks plant in Riyadh by the end of the first quarter of 2023, together with the company’s commitment to developing a circular economy for plastics, working with a range of partners and stakeholders. He also outlined how pep+ supports the strategic aims of Vision 2030 through increased targets for efficiency of waste management, the establishment of comprehensive recycling projects, and investment in infrastructure to preserve water as a vital resource among industrial and agricultural communities.
In addition, Willemsen spoke about the importance of partnerships in terms of building resilience. “We believe that collaboration is the most effective means by which we can have maximum impact. Academic institutions like KAUST can help to provide continued thought-leadership through research to ensure that we are harnessing the collective energy of innovation and driving forward a collaborative approach to a resilient future,” he said.
WEP2022 at KAUST is an annual event. Since 2010, 176 eminent international guest speakers, Nobel laureates, entrepreneurs, academics, distinguished local and regional leaders and decision-makers have addressed the audience.
KAUST WEP2022 runs from Jan. 9-20.