Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

The Power of Transformation: Mehmood Khan: As Chief Scientific Officer at PepsiCo, Mehmood Khan Is Leading a Transformation of the Food and Beverage Industry

Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

The Power of Transformation: Mehmood Khan: As Chief Scientific Officer at PepsiCo, Mehmood Khan Is Leading a Transformation of the Food and Beverage Industry

Article excerpt

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I'm a classically trained medical physician. I went to medical school in England, where I trained in internal medicine and specialized in endocrinology. I also trained in nutrition and food science at the College of Agriculture at the University of Minnesota. I was one of the earliest physicians to have the opportunity to train in both medicine and nutrition.

I practiced medicine in endocrinology with a focus in diabetes and metabolic disease at the Mayo Clinic. I was involved with a lot of clinical research, and I got interested in drug development for metabolic diseases. I was recruited to become the Chief Medical Officer and ultimately president of Takeda Global R&D, which is Japan's biggest pharmaceutical R&D company, and I was recruited from there to PepsiCo to run R&D.

Pepsi is at the forefront of a very important transformation of the food and beverage industry. It isn't just about healthier foods; there are broader issues. World food supplies aren't growing at anywhere near the rate at which demand is going to grow. Water supplies are diminishing. It will require a partnership between government, the private sector, and academia to address the biggest challenges facing humanity: how are we going to provide clean water, and how are we going to feed the world?

The biggest thing I think a leader does is build a team. To me, that has always been the job. If you bring in the right talent, you give them the right structure, you give them the resources, and you set up the right work environment and culture, they will succeed. That's your job.

You have to develop a team that is intellectually and emotionally aligned with the vision you have set. Of course, executing the vision will require important skills. But most important to me is building a team with very diverse thought processes--a team that collectively is going to be better than any one individual.

The challenge in many businesses is that the team is often far more uniform than it needs to be. …

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