UT and PepsiCo Partner in Second Annual Educational Diversity Initiative

KNOXVILLE — Twenty-three students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Business Administration spent spring semester 2012 learning about today’s globally diverse workplace.

Pictured, from left, are UT Associate Dean Tom Ladd, Tiesha Robinson, and PepsiCo’s Buddy Lewis.

This was the second class of the PepsiCo Diversity Leadership Development Program, a program that prepares then-juniors and seniors in the College of Business Administration to work in industries or organizations where workplace diversity is a reality.

“It was great to be able to interact with the PepsiCo executives in a relaxed atmosphere,” said Tiesha Robinson, a May 2012 graduate in logistics. “They were able to provide first-hand applications of the concepts we learned in the classroom.”

“We are extremely grateful to PepsiCo for partnering with us in developing and funding this program,” said Tyvi Small, coordinator of diversity initiatives for UT Knoxville’s College of Business Administration. “We were particularly pleased with the caliber of applicants interested in attending.”

To be considered for the program, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0, be socially responsible, be involved in campus and community activities, and complete an essay on what they hope to learn from the program.

Over the course of the semester, the students attended four sessions taught by PepsiCo executives. The sessions dealt with topics that included building the business case for diversity, understanding what diversity in business means, how to manage in a diverse workplace, and what diversity means for you and your career.

“One of the key messages we wanted to share with this group was PepsiCo’s powerful business case for diversity,” said Buddy Lewis, vice president and general manager of Pepsi Beverages Company’s Tennessee/Western Kentucky Market Unit. “Many people understand the importance of diversity when it comes to business culture, but we take it one step further and say diversity has a direct connection to business results.”

Talent Sustainability is one of the three platforms of PepsiCo’s Performance with Purpose mission in which the company has committed to providing employees with the skills they need to drive business growth in a supportive and empowering workplace. PepsiCo has been nationally recognized as one of the top places for women and minorities to work and was one of the first companies to hire minorities in professional positions.

Jennifer Rittenhouse, human resources director for Pepsi Beverages Company’s Tennessee/Western Kentucky Market Unit said, “Our local team is committed to giving back to our community and building PepsiCo’s diverse portfolio of talent. We hope the UT students will take these lessons to heart long after they graduate.”

About University of Tennessee

Haslam College of Business, University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN
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