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Bridging the gap with sales and merchandising

Dennis Donelon discusses his role at PepsiCo, the elevation of supply chain in joint business planning with sales and merchandising partners.
Dennis Donelon

Dennis Donelon
Sr. Director, Customer Supply Chain Integration, PepsiCo

Dennis Donelon has an impressive career at PepsiCo, with over three decades from sales to supply chain. We caught up with Dennis to see how he’s stayed relevant with change.

"Start where you have control. Control your controllables."

How long have you been with PepsiCo?
33 Years.

That’s impressive! Curious how you’ve stayed relevant over the years?
I’ve been fortunate, as I’ve had the opportunity to work in a variety of roles ranging from Retail sales, Field sales management, National sales strategy, Regional sales management and National supply chain. Throughout my career, I’d say it’s been the ability to adapt, to contribute to change and see the change as its happening. As I’ve expanded my career, I’ve become bolder in leading change. That, I think, is what keeps me relevant.

What are some of the most drastic changes you’ve seen in the market?
Retailers have become much more sophisticated. They’re using data to automate many processes. And they’re getting really precise, which is helping them save on their inventory holding costs and increase their forecast accuracy. And, as a result, they’re creating better experiences for their consumers. This change is elevating the role that supply chain plays in joint business planning discussions for sales and merchandising partners, and requiring supply chain leaders to challenge paradigms for how they currently manage inventories, capacity and the resource time of their teams.

What’s the best advice you’re ever received?
A long time ago, a district manager from New York, prior to my promotion to a D.M. role in Minneapolis, once told me, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” That has really stuck with me as I work with teams. They bring incredible insights to the table. Leverage their knowledge and learn from them.

What industry trend do you have your eye on this year—and why is it catching your attention?
Data visualization. There are tools out there now that allow you to see the full picture, in seconds versus days or weeks. These visually-stimulating dashboards are automating so many processes we’ve been doing for decades. As a result, this visibility has inspired our people to take action and, as a result, we’re making better decisions.

What do you believe is the most disruptive force in the consumer goods industry this year?
Without a doubt, it’s technology. Anyone can invest in a tool to make their job easier, but having the right technology and access to information much sooner is enabling our people to drive change much faster.

And I have to ask, what is your favorite beverage from PepsiCo?
Hands down it’s the Diet Mountain Dew.