Food and beverage company PepsiCo recently created a new Multicultural Business and Equity Development Organization to be held by Derek Lewis, making him the first president of PepsiCo’s Multicultural Business and Equity Development.
Lewis has been with PepsiCo for 34 years and so he deserves his new position. The new organization is part of Pepsico’s racial equity initiative announced in 2020. The initiative includes a $570 million investment over five years to boost Black and Hispanic representation.
Lewis is excited in his new role that is dedicated to accelerating efforts inside and outside of the company to help address inequalities for historically excluded people and underserved businesses and communities.
Lewis graduated from Hampton University in the late 80s and was fortunate to have four or five job offers but was set on working at PepsiCo for multiple reasons. First, he was impressed by the company’s portfolio of brands, and impressive global scale and reach, he said in an interview. He also loved that there is an opportunity to grow professionally and rise through the ranks. He also saw the company’s strong support for African Americans, dating back to when it hired two African-American interns, Allen McKellar Jr. and Jeanette Maund.
Lewis started his career at PepsiCo as a sales trainee. And according to him, the position taught him humility, the ability to focus and how to learn things from ground level.
“To be honest, I still draw on things I learned my very first week in the job, and I think that helps me stay close to the people who join our company now. And from these beginnings, I launched an over 30-year career at PepsiCo that’s still going strong,” he told Authority Magazine via Medium.
According to Lewis, he was inspired by people like Allen McKellar, Jr., who became one of the original sales executives on PepsiCo’s first Black salesforce and Lewis’ mentor later in life.
Lewis most recently served as president of PepsiCo Beverages North America’s South Division and has played an integral part in the company’s broader diversity and community engagement agenda, PepsiCo said. Prior to the position, Lewis was senior vice president and general manager of field operations.
He also previously served as senior vice president and general manager of the company’s South Business Unit (SBU). In that role, he managed all aspects of PepsiCo’s beverage business in the southern United States, including Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
In addition, he served for two years as vice president of retail sales for the Great West Business Unit (GWBU), covering 11 states. He was in charge of setting the functional agenda for the Business Unit’s entire Retail Sales organization.