PepsiCo Inc., Purchase, N.Y., announced senior leadership appointments that support the company's strategic priorities and growth agenda.

"As we pursue our new vision to 'Be the Global Leader in Convenient Foods and Beverages by Winning with Purpose,' we have taken some important steps to reorganize our leadership team,” said PepsiCo Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ramon Laguarta, in a statement. “We believe these changes will enable us to better capture growth opportunities by getting closer to our consumers and deploying our global capabilities in a way that allows us to win locally in each of our markets.”

The following moves are effective immediately:

Laxman Narasimhan, currently chief executive officer of Latin America (LATAM), Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa (ESSA), has been appointed to the newly created position of global chief commercial officer for PepsiCo, reporting to Laguarta. In this new role, Narasimhan will shape PepsiCo's integrated long-term growth strategy and lead the development of world-class commercial and marketing capabilities, the company says. Narasimhan will oversee PepsiCo's global category groups, insights, commercialization, design, global research and development (R&D), eCommerce and strategy. 

Silviu Popovici, who has led ESSA reporting to Narasimhan now will be chief executive officer of ESSA and report directly to Laguarta. Narasimhan will continue to lead PepsiCo's LATAM sector on an interim basis.

Narasimhan has served several senior leadership positions with increasing responsibility during his tenure at PepsiCo. In his most recent role, he oversaw the company's food and beverage businesses across LATAM and ESSA, with a focus on unlocking new growth opportunities for the two organizations, harmonizing commercial strategies and operating practices, developing talent, and evolving culture, the company says. Prior to that, as LATAM chief executive officer, he successfully grew the business, transformed its operating model, strengthened relationships with franchise bottlers, and forged new collaborations with governments and NGOs in pursuit of the company's sustainability agenda, it says.

“Laxman is the ideal executive to take on this important new role with his vast operating experience, strategic acumen and successful track record unlocking growth opportunities across our businesses and sectors. He will be instrumental as we sharpen our integrated long-term growth strategy and execute our plans to deliver sustainable, attractive marketplace and financial performance,” Laguarta said.

At the same time, the company continues to delayer operating businesses with a goal of becoming faster and more locally focused. Following the recent moves that Frito Lay North America and PepsiCo Beverages North America will report directly into Laguarta, the following leaders of key businesses and geographies will now report to Laguarta:

  • Kirk Tanner, CEO PepsiCo Beverages North America (PBNA)
  • Vivek Sankaran, CEO Frito Lay North America (FLNA)
  • Silviu Popovici, CEO Europe Sub-Saharan Africa (ESSA)
  • Mike Spanos, CEO Asia, Middle East, North Africa (AMENA)
  • Laxman Narasimhan, interim CEO Latin America (LATAM)
  • Jim Andrew, EVP Soda Stream and Beyond Bottle Ventures

The above changes will have no impact on PepsiCo's external financial reporting structure, the company says. The company also will continue to report segments as FLNA, LATAM, Quaker Foods North America, North America Beverages, ESSA, AMENA, consistent with current practice.

In addition, the company also announced a change in leadership in its R&D organization. Dr. Mehmood Khan, vice chairman and chief scientific officer of global research and development, will retire from PepsiCo this month. He will remain with the company in an advisory capacity.

During the past decade, Khan led research and development efforts for PepsiCo, driving innovation with new products, packaging and processes. During his tenure, PepsiCo became respected as a worldwide leader in science and innovation, attracting top talent in fields such as agronomy, nutrition, biology, food science and engineering, the company says. At the same, Khan was instrumental in defining PepsiCo's sustainability goals while being an active voice externally, urging others to join PepsiCo in its efforts to build a more sustainable food system, it adds.

Rene Lammers, currently senior vice president of category R&D, has been appointed to the role of chief science officer, reporting to Narasimhan. In this role, Lammers will be responsible for building R&D capabilities as the company looks to continue to expand its product portfolio. In his most recent role, Lammers was responsible for driving an integrated agenda across product, process, equipment and packaging technologies. Since joining PepsiCo in 2010, Lammers has held leadership roles across long-term research, global functions, governance and compliance and the global beverage category. 

“Rene is a proven leader with a strong track record of success, and his vision and oversight of our R&D function will be critically important as we work to build a robust innovation pipeline to support our growth,” Laguarta said. “On behalf of our executive team and the entire PepsiCo organization, I would like to thank Mehmood for his tireless work at PepsiCo over the last decade building our global R&D technologies and capabilities, shaping our sustainability strategy, and recruiting top talent to our team. I appreciate his willingness to stay on as an adviser to me and the company. We wish him all of the best in his next chapter.”