NEW DELHI: After more than a dozen senior to mid-level exits over the past six months, beverage and snacks maker PepsiCo has kicked off a ‘location-free’ roles strategy in a bid to retain talent and offer some employees opportunities to handle global functions without having to move out of India.About 10% of the positions at its Gurgaon-based head office will be location-free, which means those employees can operate from anywhere in the country.While the employees will be part of their respective functional groups in India, they will report to their sector/global heads who may be based in Dubai, New York or other cluster headquarters, the company said. These officials will not report to the India leadership. “This is to take advantage of technology and to help retain talent and take care of career aspiration of talent who may not necessarily want to move location. These roles will not be for customer-facing functions such as manufacturing and sales, but for functions such as human resources, R&D, IT and finance,” a company spokesperson said.For example, the global campus lead is based in India and now reports to New York. The HR sector compensation-benefit head is based in India and reports to Dubai, while the digital head based in India reports to New York. “Local talent has consistently taken more global roles and responsibilities from time to time, including in new emerging areas of digital and other shared services. These roles are – in a lot of cases – becoming location-free with the advancements of technology,” company VP-HR Suchitra Rajendra said.The maker of Pepsi cola and Mountain Dew announced the exit of marketing head Vipul Prakash last month. Other recent senior level departures from the company include snacks portfolio marketing director Vani Dandia and head of strategy Mithun Sundar. It is now learnt that about five mid-to-junior level officials have quit in the HR department. Rajendra, however, said the company’s rate of attrition is lower than the FMCG industry average in India.A PepsiCo spokesperson said the exits are unrelated to the restructuring.“Drawing a conclusion basis individual employees in junior to mid-level from different functions exiting due to restructuring would be incorrect. PepsiCo and its partners continue to invest in India by way of new manufacturing lines across the country which is creating new opportunities for talent,” he said.PepsiCo’s core soft drinks have lost market share, with consumers switching to ‘healthier’ drinks. The prospect of refranchising to an external bottler could marginalise India roles to marketing and sales.RJ Corp, PepsiCo’s biggest bottler in South Asia, operates the company’s bottling franchisee rights across 22 Indian markets and has a tie-up with group company Varun Beverages to distribute its Tropicana juices, Gatorade sports drinks and Quaker Oats.
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