Michael Song:Empowering Talents By Providing Growth Opportunities


Michael Song, CHRO-APAC, PepsiCoPepsiCo is the global leader in providing convenient food and beverage products. PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo's product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including many iconic brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales. Michael Song is the CHRO for PepsiCo APAC Sector. He joined PepsiCo in 2009, and under his leadership, PepsiCo APAC has established itself as a top destination and talent academy for talent. Before joining PepsiCo, Michael Song has more than 10 years of experience in a global leading HR consulting firm, leading talent and organization analytic consulting practice in Greater China. Michael Song engages in an exclusive interaction with the CEO Insights Asia Magazine, let’s hear from him.

What are the traits that best define your leadership approach?

In terms of leadership traits, there are two different sets of traits that define leadership. The first set is what we usually define as a leadership competency and the other set is how we describe leadership as something beyond skills or competency that includes integrity, passion, vision, risk-taking, courage, humility, and more. A few leadership traits I believe are important and define leadership are courage, curiosity, human centric, strategic thinking, and authenticity.

Tell us about the benchmarks being set by PepsiCo to date and the values it represents.

PepsiCo is a global, high-growth, consumer-centric, and forward-looking global company with a worldclass portfolio of food & beverage brands. Our culture encourages innovation in our go-to-market strategies and new product development, is committed to building a more sustainable food system, and believes in investing in our people and the local communities in which they live and work. As an essential business, we are conscious of those who depend on us, and proud of how we make, move and sell our products that deliver smiles around the world. Our strategic framework, Winning with PepsiCo Positive, provides a crisp definition of who we are and who we want to be. pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) directly links the future of our business with the future of our planet – from how we source ingredients and make and sell our products, to how we inspire consumers through our iconic brands to make better choices for themselves and the planet, to how we support communities and improve livelihoods throughout our supply chain. This purpose-driven approach to winning is also reflected in our strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion as well as in the way we care for our colleagues every day, and especially in times of crisis.

"Overcome the fear of unknown and unfamiliar situations by facing them"

As the CHRO, what skills do you look for in fresh candidates? How do you ensure to bring out the potential of the team that contributes to their personal growth, as well as, to the organization’s growth?

The fresh candidate should have a curiosity to learn new things and must be a thinker. They must have good communication skills, a genuine interest in people, demonstrate emotional intelligence, and understand others, seeking out different perspectives. Our model is first and foremost based on risk-taking and putting people into big jobs, uncomfortable jobs, and trusting they will flourish if you take a chance on them. Taking inventory of rising stars and stretching them is fundamental to the PepsiCo talent machine. PepsiCo is known as a top academy company and it’s all about a highly developed, well-oiled system that identifies and intensively develops high performers within the company. The employees are lavished with training programs, stretch assignments around the world, mentorship, and opportunities to try and even fail at new things. Also, high-potential leaders have access to a suite of accelerated development programs designed to help participants experience what it’s like to lead at the next level.

What are the challenges you encounter in your role and what is your formula to move forward?

The challenges I encounter concern ensuring the company’s human capital management is up-todate and right leadership is established so that the expectations can be set right, as in such a fast-paced changing environment and the shifting of work and future of talent puts forth the need to advance. The success in a rapid-changing business landscape depends on how we keep transforming ourselves and developing the leadership & critical capabilities needed for the future. The formula to move forward is to have people who can transform themselves to anticipate and navigate the changes to stay ahead of the curve. We develop local talent who understand local cultures and nuances and drive innovation and transformation through the diversity of talent & capability.

What is the future destination you are headed for?

My aspiration is to support Asian leader development, unleashing the power of Asian talent and building the critical capabilities to compete on the global stage. The goal is to inspire, motivate and push more local Asian leaders to take regional or global leadership roles.

Michael Song, CHRO-APAC, PepsiCo

After over a decade of experience in an HR consulting firm, Michael Song joined PepsiCo in 2009 and has been appointed as a TR Director, TR and ELR Senior Director, CHRO China Foods, HRVP China Region and CHRO APAC Sector. Under his leadership, PepsiCo APAC has been certified as Top Employer APAC for two consecutive years by Top Employer Institute.

Quick Facts:

• Hobbies: Travel & Reading

• Favourite Cuisine: Hot Pot

• Favourite Book: Mastering Leadership

• Favourite Travel Destination: Jordan, New Zealand

• Awards & Recognition: PepsiCo Chairman Award in 2012

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