Who is Ramon Laguarta? The marketer-turned-Pepsi CEO taking over from Indra Nooyi

PepsiCo's board of directors unanimously voted for Laguarta to take the hot seat / Pepsi

PepsiCo's chief executive Indra Nooyi, who has been at the helm of the drinks giant for the past 12 years, is to step down from her role and pass the baton on to current president and former marketer Ramon Laguarta.

Under Nooyi's watch, PepsiCo's revenues grew by 80%. She has been with the firm for 24 years, joining first as senior vice-president of strategic planning and then becoming chief financial officer before taking the top seat.

Nooyi will step down in October, remaining as chair until early 2019 in order to ensure a "smooth and seamless transition" for the business and its shareholders.

The chief said that Laguarta was "exactly the right person to build on [Pepsi's] success.

"He is a terrific executive with a long and proven track record of growing businesses. He has a deep understanding of the changing preferences of consumers and other critical trends unfolding around the world, and he has demonstrated that he knows how to navigate them successfully."

She added: "Laguarta has been a critical partner in running the company, and I'm confident he will take PepsiCo to new and greater heights in the years to come."

So who is Ramon Laguarta?

Like Nooyi, Laguarta is a Pepsi luminary, having worked with the beverage behemoth for 22 years.

Since 2017 he has been global president of PepsiCo, overseeing operations, strategy, public policy and government affairs.

Prior to joining the company in 1996, Laguarta worked for confectionary firm Chupa Chups across Europe and the US.

He first arrived at PepsiCo as a marketing vice-president for Spain Snacks. Since then he's held a multitude of roles including president of PepsiCo for Eastern Europe.

His leadership experience also includes a tenure as chief executive officer for the brand's complex Europe Sub-Saharan Africa market.

The exec was widely slated to take over from Nooyi following his promotion last year and will be the sixth chief executive in the Mountain Dew owner's 53-year history.

PepsiCo's board of directors unanimously voted for Laguarta to take the hot seat.

"I'm incredibly humbled and privileged to be appointed the next chief executive of PepsiCo, and I want to thank the board of directors for the confidence they have placed in me with their decision," said Laguarta.

"I also want to thank Nooyi for her overwhelming support. She has transformed the company with her bold vision and outstanding leadership, and I feel fortunate to have her as a mentor and a friend."

What challenges does Laguarta face as CEO?

Nooyi's spell leading PepsiCo has been particularly strong, with net revenue growth rising from $35bn in 2006 to $63.5bn last year under year watch.

Now, amid a shift towards healthier lifestyles and changing consumer habits, Laguarta will have to strike the balance between the development and marketing healthier alternatives versus pumping spend into Pepsi's flagship products.

At the start of this year, PepsiCo said it would "double down" on marketing fizzy drinks brands like its namesake cola and Gatorade, after a focus on healthier ranges saw its drinks division in the US – which accounts for a third of its business – performed the worst in Q4 of 2017, falling 3%.

In its most recent quarter, however, the company's North America beverages sales fell just 0.9 percent – its smallest drop in four quarters.

The decreased Q2 2018 dip was down to going "toe-to-toe" with rival Coca-Cola in both marketing and pricing.

In the UK, Laguarta will also need to navigate the impact of the 'sugar tax' (a levy on drinks makes which issues fines based on the volume of sugar-sweetened products they make or import at the rate of 18p and 24p a litre), as well as proposed changes to how TV ads for food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt are targeted towards kids.

Nooyi's departure marks the end of an era for PepsiCo, with her exit leaving just 24 women leading the Fortune 500 companies.

Commenting on her departure, she said: "Growing up in India, I never imagined I'd have the opportunity to lead such an extraordinary company. Guided by our philosophy of 'Performance with Purpose' — delivering sustained performance while making more nutritious products, limiting our environmental footprint and lifting up all the communities we serve — we've made a more meaningful impact in people's lives than I ever dreamed possible."

"PepsiCo today is in a strong position for continued growth with its brightest days still ahead," she finished.

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