‘Rise up, baby’, goes PepsiCo’s new tagline introduced last year. Jagrut Kotecha, who has been announced as the new CEO for the India region, has been doing just that. A PepsiCo veteran, having spent 30 years in the organisation, Kotecha is currently serving as the Chief Commercial Officer for PepsiCo Africa, Middle East and South Asia (AMESA).

He will take over the reins of India in March from Ahmed El Sheikh, the first expat CEO to lead operations here. Kotecha, who has been based in Dubai for his AMESA role, will be returning to India after nearly five years.

His appointment is particularly interesting as PepsiCo has been gaining share in savoury snacks in India. Kotecha led the snacks category for India from October 2016 to May 2019 before moving to an international role.

India is among the fastest growing markets in the AMESA region for PepsiCo. The snacks and beverage maker has appointed Kotecha to lead India at a time when the company wants to tap into the country’s growing disposable incomes and low per-capita consumption levels.

In 2021, the company made its largest greenfield investment to set up its snacks plant in Uttar Pradesh. Last year, it announced an investment of ₹778 crore in setting up its fifth snacks plant in Assam. However, sluggish rural demand has been a key challenge for the FMCG industry in the past one year amidst intensifying competition. At the same time, the new age channels such as modern trade and e-commerce are growing in salience. A lot is also riding on the upcoming summer season for the beverage players after 2023 saw a washed out summer season due to unseasonal rains.

As per a RoC filing, PepsiCo India ended FY23 with total revenues of ₹8,129 crore up 29 per cent. Its net profit surged to ₹255.75 crore in FY23, up from ₹27.87 crore in FY22, marking its sixth year of profitable growth.

Kotecha, who followed the conventional engineering-MBA route, did his chemical engineering from University of Mumbai and is an alumnus of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies. He began his career with Cadbury India in 1982. He started working for PepsiCo India in 1994. He has held several roles in international markets and served as the General Manager for markets including Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Mongolia between 2006-2010. He then spent nearly six years as General Manager for the Thailand market for PepsiCo.

Going by his enormous and varied experience within the PepsiCo fold, the company must have had no hesitation in picking him, saying, Yehi hai right choice, baby!