Athina Kanioura is Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer at PepsiCo. An accomplished innovator and transformation leader, Kanioura oversees PepsiCo’s end-to-end strategy to win both as a total company and in key markets, including their digitalization strategy. She also leads company-wide transformation—ensuring that their scale is leveraged as they focus on accelerating profitable growth and identifying areas of cost efficiency and optimization—in addition to overseeing Data Products, Platforms, and Talent. Prior to joining PepsiCo, Kanioura was the Chief Analytics Officer and Global Head of Applied Intelligence at Accenture, where she specialized in applying AI and analytics to drive business value. During her 15 years at Accenture, Kanioura grew the Applied Intelligence function from a subspecialty to a global group at the forefront of scale business transformation. She also ran Sales and Customer Analytics globally and drove the company’s offerings in customer relationship management and personalization. Kanioura specializes in transforming businesses with emphasis on data and technology, and brings many years of practical experience globally in industries such as telecomms, oil and gas, financial services, and consumer packaged goods, having worked with companies such as Mondelez, Unilever, P&G, Reckitt Benkiser, Phillip Morris, and Adidas. Kanioura is a member of the Royal Statistical and Economics Society, where she contributes to shaping government policy around how data is used by bodies like the IMF. She also sits on the board of the Institute of Marketing Sciences and is a keen educator who has held lectureships at UMIST (UK), Imperial College London (UK), and the University of Sheffield (UK), where she also earned her PhD in Econometrics and Quantitative Economics.
Contributor: Frederica Bolgouras
Describe your passion for innovation.
Innovation has always been a deep passion of mine since it is a true catalyst of change. At PepsiCo, we embed innovation into everything we do. From product innovation to technology and process innovation, we want to drive the growth of our business while constantly evolving it to reach new heights. Innovation has evolved to a tremendous degree already. With the help of several external partners, we are already infusing innovation in the ways of development, not just innovation for the sake of innovation.
How did you navigate your career early on to focus on Marketing Sciences, Analytics, Applied Intelligence, and Global Data?
STEM is incredibly important to me on a personal and professional level. When I decided to pivot from academia to consulting, the data, emerging technology and AI space was very synergistic and attractive. Entering this very competitive and demanding space would take perseverance, but as a woman, I was determined to show that female talent can not only thrive, but also lead.
I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to work across industries and capabilities. These experiences were very valuable and played a large role in shaping and preparing me for my current role as Chief Strategy & Transformation Officer at PepsiCo.
Describe a couple of your most proud accomplishments in your current role as the Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer at PepsiCo
I am honored and proud to serve as PepsiCo’s first Chief Strategy & Transformation Officer. In the 16 months that I have been in the role, we have accelerated our transformation agenda, better connecting our value chain end-to-end (from our consumers to our suppliers). Under my leadership, interconnectivity and leveraging the power of data are priorities. The breadth of talent at PepsiCo is truly unmatched, and I’m enjoying the cross-functional collaboration to tackle the hardest of problems. That’s why everyone in the organization will play a role in the transformation that benefits the company and the individual.
Who has inspired you the most in your life?
I’ve always been inspired by Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first individual awarded two Nobel Prizes. Her passion for continuous learning led her to fundamentally change our understanding of radioactivity. It’s innovators, like Curie, who led and revolutionized fields of science despite the bias against them and continue to empower women in the field.
What advice would you give to professional Hellenic-American Women today in their careers and those who are up and coming stars in the technology sector?
Being authentic, inspiring and purpose driven are key attributes I believe are important for having a successful career in the corporate world. Also, as a female leader, I have always tried to be assertive while being empathetic. In this climate, leading with empathy is more important than ever.
Are you active in the Greek Community in the United States?
As we safely socialize more, my family and I look forward to making new connections in the Greek community. Don’t be a stranger! Please reach out.
Given the COVID pandemic, how are you handling the stress this has caused and which wellness and coping exercises and mechanisms would you recommend?
The pandemic has been an incredibly challenging time for all of us. I often turn to music and tennis to help me recharge and relax. I also like that these are activities my family and I can do together.