Meet the 2024 Influencers

Originally published on IFT

Mukesh Kasargode: People-Focused R&D Leader

Minutes into a conversation with Mukesh Kasargode, vice president of R&D, PepsiCo Foods North America, his leadership style is apparent: It’s about prioritizing people and building trust within his teams. That’s the approach he takes daily in a role focused on delivering innovation, productivity, and stewardship for hundreds of well-known brands, working with teams in areas ranging from ingredient sourcing and engineering to marketing and sales.

“Trust is the word that I always use,” Kasargode reflects, “because that’s what binds everything. If you can’t extend trust from day one, it never comes together. So that’s why, for me, people have been a huge area of importance in my [professional] life, and they have given me a lot of learnings.”

“Mukesh is a people-oriented leader, and with his diverse expertise and global experience, he is an inspiration to emerging and accomplished professionals within and outside of PepsiCo,” says PepsiCo Senior Principal Scientist Nitin Joshi.

Kasargode’s career in the food and beverage space started when he was hired for an internship at a General Mills breakfast cereal production facility in Woodland, Calif., after completing his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of California, Sacramento. Following his time at General Mills, Kasargode spent 11 years at Kraft Foods. Soon after that, he joined PepsiCo, embarking on a career that has taken him from Dubai, where he worked to build a technical organization to serve markets in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, to Barrington, Ill., where he led product development and commercialization for the Quaker brand.

He assumed the R&D vice president post based in Plano, Texas, in 2021. Kasargode says one of the most important things that the diversified geography of his career has taught him is how to function in both a culture of abundance and a culture of scarcity.

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