American Marketing Association at University of Illinois at Chicago Visits PepsiCo

Zainub Ghias is a fourth-year UIC Business Ambassador pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Marketing with a Business Analytics minor. In the summer of 2018, Zainub was a Business and Entrepreneurship intern at the Golden Corridor Makerspace and William Rainey Harper College. She currently works as a Communication Aide with the Physics Department and General Office Aide with Biology Department at UIC. She also serves as the Secretary of the American Marketing Association and Vice Chair of Marketing for Undergraduate Women’s Network.


Each semester, American Marketing Association (AMA) UIC organizes site visits and office tours to Chicagoland companies for College of Business students and their members. These company visits cover details on digital media, retail, branding, and analytics industry advancements. They are organized to connect with senior leaders from local, national, and international companies. As part of our Fall ’18 semester plan, President Rebekah Romack and executive board members of AMA UIC organized a site visit to PepsiCo’s Chicago Headquarters.

On Monday, October 15th 19 AMA UIC members attended a lunch & learn session at PepsiCo where four guest speakers presented details on different aspects of the company’s marketing strategies. Our visit began with a lunch session which was followed by presentations from speakers. The guest speakers discussed details regarding how PepsiCo utilizes creative strategies to launch new consumer packaged goods. The first presenter was Aiden Kingerlee, who is General Manager Vice President of North America Nutrition Premium. He mentioned that LIFE WTR and Bubly were two of his biggest launches in consumer-packaged good brands division. He emphasized by informing us, “We ensure our products showcase community and they offer a positive consumer experience.” The best advice he can give to young marketers is to surround themselves with individuals who have knowledge regarding digital marketing and analytics tools.

Moreover, our members had the opportunity to ask insightful questions throughout the speaker’s presentation. When Avery Maxwell, a current member, asked Aiden how he responds to negative feedback from campaigns. He mentioned that, although it can be challenging for them to deal with these issues, they take full responsibility and use feedback to fuel improvement.

The next presenter was Erika Salgado who is the Senior Director for Hive. Hive is Pepsi’s internal division focused on developing smaller brands to help them nurture and better compete. Salgado discussed how she began her career as an intern at PepsiCo in 1999 in Brazil. She mentioned that “Being productive rather than being occupied has assisted me in holding positions such as Marketing Director for Quaker Oats and Salty Snacks.” Her talk helped us gain insights on how to grow our careers in the same company after internships.

This session was followed by a presentation from Carolyn Buff, Marketing Director of North America Nutrition Gatorade who provided us insights regarding Gatorade’s branding strategies. It was a delightful experience to learn about the Gatorade Player of the Year awards. Students learned firsthand how Gatorade manages their extensive product line.

Lastly, our members also had the opportunity to interact with Rebecca Kar, General Manager Senior Vice President for North America Nutrition Tropicana. She mentioned how they create new flavors and discontinue old ones in the research center. These marketing professionals advised us to value feedback from seniors as it helps in developing interpersonal skills for future career success.

Furthermore, our UIC business students received advice on career growth. Carolyn Buff advised, “Become more involved in business organizations on campus as it assists in developing leadership skills.” She suggested us to develop our resumes and tailor them according to requirements of different job postings and include a cover letter in job applications. She suggested building a network where people support you in learning skills that can be used in the corporate world. Our guest speakers concluded the lunch & learn session by sharing what steps we as undergraduate students can take to grow in the marketing industry.

In summary, company visits like PepsiCo provide a remarkably distinct learning experience for our ambitious AMA UIC members. They provide an opportunity for students to connect with marketing professionals. By organizing such company visits, our members are given exposure to learning skills such as personal branding, consumer packaged goods branding, strategic thinking, digital media, and recruitment. Overall, these events show how UIC Business shapes their students positively and prepares them for their professional success.