PepsiCo has successful collaborations with several universities across the UK to source the best talent in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). We make some of Britain’s most loved brands, such as Walkers crisps, made in Leicester in the biggest crisp factory in the world.

Leicester is also home to one of PepsiCo’s Global R&D centres for snacks. This centre is busy creating new scientific understanding of our foods and new technologies to take advantage of the science. We are committed to refining our food and beverage choices to meet changing consumer needs by reducing added sugars, saturated fat and salt, and by developing a broader portfolio of product choices – and we need the best talent to help us create the future of food.

Location is important on a practical level for successful collaborations. But what’s more important is the mindset of both parties. Each year, placement students from around the UK join our teams in R&D, nutrition science, and engineering to put their skills learned at university into practice. A good example is our long standing relationship with the University of Nottingham, where many of our talented people came from. It’s been a successful collaboration for many years, primarily because of the people. One stand-out student is Suzanne Davies, who joined us as a placement student, studying nutrition and food science.

“When I started my placement in the R&D team, they gave me lots of small objectives, and by the time I was 6 months in, I was managing my own projects. I couldn’t believe how much I had changed and developed. This was different to many of the experiences other food science students had. They weren’t given much responsibility and I’d hear a lot of stories about how poor and limited their workload had been.”

Suzanne Davies, PepsiCo Placement Student

Suzanne, with eight other students from the 2012-2014 placement cohorts, were offered and accepted full time jobs after their degrees. Graduating in July 2016, Suzanne is now a Senior R&D Technician for PepsiCo at 22 years of age. In the same team as her placement year, her research now has a long-term focus. Beyond her day-to-day role, Suzanne is completing a Masters in Food Science and Engineering at the University of Nottingham sponsored by PepsiCo. This collaboration between student, university and company benefits all parties. Suzanne is helping us with real business problems while leveraging her University network to help resolve challenges. For Suzanne, she can access both university facilities and the industry, allowing her to make great progress on her studies.

Finally, for the University of Nottingham, our continued partnership and sponsorship helps them leverage and maximise their impact in the industry. Universities have a valuable role in nurturing young talent, but they are not alone. Companies and individuals have a duty to develop young talent and show students how their skills can be applied in a business context.