VP, Digital Technology & Business Transformation, G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers
With nearly 1,600 employees, G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers is the largest family-owned and operated Pepsi franchise bottler.
Driving its technological and business development is its Executive VP, Digital Technology & Business Transformation lead and Mountain Dew connoisseur, Brian Balzer. “I manage our Digital Technology and Business Transformation teams. This is all things IT, cyber, development and it’s all things project management and product delivery to the business,” he explains.
The business transformation executive has worked in IT for over 25 years across a number of industries, including banking, manufacturing and healthcare. With his experience spanning into data roles, project management and data centres, Balzer has another, more unexpected credential: “I also held a Lean Six Sigma Blackbelt role, which was an incredible experience. Having domain expertise in so many different areas has really enabled me to take on bigger roles as my career developed.”
As his career progressed, Balzer had the opportunity to work for GE Aviation. It was here, Balzer believes, that he was able to develop a robust and comprehensive leadership style. He explains: “No one can argue how GE develops people as leaders. [...] They stretch you, grow you and ask you to be a strategic visionary in your role. Working for GE was the best decision I made in my career AND…leaving GE was the best decision I made in my career. I wouldn’t be where I am without the experiences I gained there, and it’s really afforded me the opportunity to use those skills in this role.”
“It provided me with an opportunity to work with some of the most talented individuals I’ve ever worked with in my career, both there and especially here, and I’m inspired by the work we do every day at G&J Pepsi,” he continues.
To become a good leader, Balzer quickly learnt the power of communication - though he explains there were a few things he had to learn to ensure he was getting the best out of his teams: “I’ve had to learn to become a good storyteller so that people could relate to me, to my team and to technology. Those of us in tech roles often speak a different language than those who are not in the tech sector. This means we need to be able to communicate the WIFM (What’s In It For Me) and share a vision and strategy that will impact our business partners in a way they understand. This is how you find greater success as a leader and garner support.”
Now, Balzer keenly invests in his people and teams as he drives their development at G&J Pepsi.
“I want to help them achieve their career aspirations and help them do more than they thought is possible. I’m enthusiastic, collaborative and curious. I trust my team and I provide real-time feedback. I also ask for feedback from my peers and my team, so that I can be the best version of myself to continually improve my leadership style. My motto is: Grow your people so they are skilled enough to leave but treat them good enough and build a great culture, so they want to stay!” outlines Balzer.
Concluding, the business transformation executive reflects on why G&J Pepsi is such a rewarding place to work: “There have been just a couple of companies that I’ve worked at in my career where everyone is super passionate about their jobs and the products that the company delivers. Let me tell you, people are super passionate about Pepsi, our brand, our products and delivering those products to consumers who also love our products. Being a part of a Digital Technology and Business Transformation team who are equally as passionate about our brand and our work has been inspiring.”
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