American business leader Roger Enrico (born 1944) is best known for his lengthy tenure as chief executive officer (CEO) of PepsiCo Inc. Under Enrico, Pepsi developed a strong image and built profits. Enrico left Pepsi in 2001 and has served as chairman of the board of directors for entertainment company DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc., since 2004.
The son of a maintenance foreman at an iron oresmelting plant, Enrico was born on November 11, 1944, in the small town of Chisholm, Minnesota. Growing up, Enrico often heard his father comment that it made little sense to him why management at the smelting plant did not listen to the ideas of those who worked in the shop. These words would stay with Enrico later in his career. During high school, he took his first job working at a local soft drink bottling plant. Enrico was never better than an average student, but his hopes of leaving Minnesota were fulfilled when he received a full scholarship to Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Enrico did well at Babson, graduating in three years. While there, he edited the college yearbook and headed his fraternity. Because he enjoyed working with people, Enrico decided to enter the field of human resources. After his graduation from Babson, he took a job in the human resources department in the Minnesota office of General Mills. However, Enrico discovered that he did not enjoy the work as much as he had expected, and began considering a career change.
Shortly after returning to Minnesota, Enrico again began dating his high school girlfriend, Rosemary Marge. The two later married and had one son, Aaron.
First, Enrico tried to join the Navy. However, he failed a test for colorblindness and was not accepted. Instead, in 1967 he enlisted for service in Vietnam near the height of the conflict. He worked as a supply officer in the northern part of South Vietnam, primarily transporting fuel. There, as noted in the International Directory of Business Biographies , Enrico "marveled at his commanding officer's ability to combine resourcefulness and a penchant for not 'going by the book.'" This lesson remained with Enrico throughout his career, helping him build a leadership style that could frustrate co-workers but also fostered innovation.
General Mills rehired Enrico upon his return from Vietnam, this time for their brand management division. Enrico found that he greatly preferred this kind of work to his efforts in human resources, but believed he was not reaching his full potential with General Mills because of his educational background. After a job search, Enrico was offered a position in Dallas with Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, Inc., in 1972. Although initially wary of moving to Dallas, Enrico recognized the value of the opportunity and accepted the position in Frito-Lay's brand management department.
Enrico's first job with Frito-Lay was as associate brand manager for Funyuns, an onion-flavored snack food. The position suited Enrico and he quickly established a reputation as a young go-getter. Soon Frito-Lay offered Enrico the position of president of PepsiCo Foods Japan. Enrico accepted the job, and although his time in Japan was challenging and fairly unsuccessful, PepsiCo found a place for him as vice-president of their southern Latin American division. He spent some time in Brazil in the late 1970s before returning to the United States to become senior vice president of sales and marketing of the PepsiCo Bottling Group. While in this position, Enrico impressed PepsiCo's then-president, John Scully, with his marketing prowess. After Scully's departure from PepsiCo in 1983, Enrico rose to the position of president and chief executive officer of beverages.
One of Enrico's primary accomplishments during his years heading the beverage division was the creation of the Pepsi Challenge. This marketing campaign placed Pepsi representative in public places with unmarked cups of both Pepsi and Coca-Cola to recruit passers-by to perform a blind taste test of the product. Most tasters selected Pepsi as their preferred drink, although Coca-Cola at that time had much higher sales. When these tests were shown on a well-known series of television commercials, Pepsi's share of the cola market rose considerably at locations where both beverages were sold. In 1985 Coca-Cola responded to this shift in the market by introducing an unsuccessful reformulation of their flagship beverage, unofficially known as New Coke.
The following year, Enrico, with co-author Jesse Kornbluth, published a book on the phenomenon, The Other Guy Blinked: How Pepsi Won the Cola Wars . Unlike many of Enrico's marketing campaigns, his book was not well received; the Jonathan Yardley wrote in The Washington Post that "it is a blustery and self-serving book in which Enrico attempts, with little likelihood of success, to make himself into a corporate hero in the Iacocca mode … style rather than substance is Enrico's stock in trade, which makes him the quintessential entrepreneur for the age of advertising." Indeed, much of Pepsi's success in the cola wars can be attributed to strong marketing campaigns such as the Pepsi Challenge and a series of television commercials featuring celebrities such as Michael Jackson.
By 1987 Pepsi had increased its market share significantly and was within a percentage point of traditional leader Coca-Cola, largely due to Enrico's successful marketing. He was promoted to CEO of PepsiCo Worldwide Beverages, a position he held from 1987 to 1991.
Enrico suffered a personal setback in 1990, when he had a heart attack in Turkey during a business trip. In 1991 Enrico left Pepsi's beverage division to become CEO of sister company Frito-Lay and Pepsi Foods International. One of his first actions as CEO was to eliminate 1,800 jobs and streamline domestic operations. He encouraged the creation of healthy snacks, such as baked potato chips. Enrico also implemented several of his signature successful marketing campaigns.
In 1994 Enrico became chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Worldwide Restaurants, the corporate division encompassing chain restaurants Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). The division was struggling financially, and Enrico employed streamlining techniques like those used shortly after his takeover of Frito-Lay and Pepsi Foods International. After Enrico reduced operational units and costs, the division experienced a 19 percent profit increase. Business Leader Profiles for Students noted that "Enrico recognized that [Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC] were often competing with one another and had become obsessed with growth to the point of losing sight of operations and letting supply outstrip demand." In 1995 Enrico's successes with the restaurant division were much-lauded. Ready for a break, Enrico took a l4-month sabbatical from his duties. He spent much of this time working on a development and mentoring program for promising young PepsiCo executives, implemented at Enrico's personal Cayman Islands residence and his Montana ranch.
BusinessWeek , December 26, 2005.
Washington Post , November 9, 1986.
"Roger Enrico," Business Leaders Profiles for Students , Reproduced in Biography Resource Center , http://www.galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC (January 6, 2007).
"Roger Enrico," International Directory of Business Biographies , Reproduced in Biography Resource Center , http://www.galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC (January 6, 2007).