Episode 8 – Challenging Stereotypes

In this Episode

Laura Maxwell, who graduated with a degree in industrial engineering when statistics were not in her favor (one in 14 graduates was a woman), shares personal stories that propelled her to success, the need to fight implicit bias in STEM education and career gender stereotypes.

For 31 years, Maxwell has held numerous positions within PepsiCo’s (Frito-Lay’s parent company) supply chain function, including a four-year stint in marketing. As she often tells young STEM graduates, “you may think you know exactly what you want to do, but I promise you it will change.” Her career path’s trajectory is due to her perseverance, passion for supply chain and trust in her colleagues’ and mentors’ guidance. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, she believes it is fundamental to teach women at a young age that they can build any career they want for themselves, even where representation is lacking.

Additionally, Maxwell serves as the executive sponsor for Frito-Lay’s Women’s employee resource groups and is heavily involved in SNAC’s WinS (Women in Snacks) initiative both of which she believes are important vehicles to bring women and men into a much-needed dialogue about how to create a diverse and inclusive workforce.

SNAC Cast episode 8

Laura Maxwell, SVP of Supply Chain, PepsiCo Foods North America

“We’re making great strides as an industry in bringing in not even just women, just in general, bringing in a more diverse group of leaders into our organizations. My message to everyone is: instead of letting that be a deterrent, think of yourself as a pioneer because you are in fact pioneers. You’ve got these people that are joining our industry and behind them are people that are watching them. So while they’re watching us, there are people coming up watching them, and they have that same opportunity to pave the way, help us get better, stay, and become pioneers and use themselves for the next generation to follow.”

Laura Maxwell

About the Speaker

Laura is currently Senior Vice President of Supply Chain for PepsiCo Foods North America. In her role, Laura leads the North American field and headquarters Supply Chain teams who’s priorities include: supporting the growth agenda, productivity, quality, food safety and environmental health and safety.

Laura has held a variety of roles over the course of her 31-year career with PepsiCo. She holds a degree in Industrial Engineering from Iowa State University and joined the company as an operations resource where she spent 17 years in field manufacturing roles prior to coming to Frito-Lay headquarters. Laura’s previous roles include Vice President of Marketing Services, Senior Vice President of Business Transformation and Senior Vice President of Service and Distribution, Supply and Commercialization.

In addition to her current role, Laura serves as the executive sponsor for Frito-Lay’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), providing strategic oversight and guidance to the 10 ERGs. Laura also serves on the Board of Directors of the Texas Women’s Foundation, and frequently speaks with collegiate and high school-level students, helping them find ways to overcome perceived barriers to reaching their career goals.

Laura and her husband, Marty, have two daughters, Maddy (24) and Molly (21).