Words of Wisdom: Kate Brady, PepsiCo

Nov 9, 2021

Welcome to Pass the Mic’s series: Words of Wisdom, a unique opportunity to hear from the industry’s leading women on their personal inspirations and discover their advice on advancing as a woman in the audio and advertising field.

We're joined by PepsiCo's Head of Media Innovation & Partnership Development, Kate Brady. Her 11+ year tenure at PepsiCo began in the Media Planning department, where she now pilots and scales new partnerships across the Business Units.

And with over 20 years of marketing experience, Kate has paved an inspiring path of growth and leadership.

Read along or listen in for Kate Brady's Words of Wisdom.

What’s the best advice you were ever given: professional or otherwise? 

Kate Brady: What’s the best advice you were ever given?

About 2 years ago, I entered into a brand new role within PepsiCo to lead media innovation for our organization, which was a completely new space for me. Since the goal of media innovation is to look at what’s new and different, it’s difficult to be the expert and it was tough at first to ground myself in this topic.  My current manager told me to trust myself to define and lead this new role how I best saw fit and that I’d find others would trust me too. That I was hired for the role based on what they knew I could accomplish and already had their full trust to do so.  Those words gave me such relief as I was terrified trying to build a team and lead an agenda I was still learning.  Knowing by trusting myself and having the confidence and support from leadership empowered me to craft this new role and team to what has become one of the most fulfilling roles in my career.  I think many, many people, especially women, can deal with Imposter Syndrome from time to time and I have tried to ensure my team always knows that they have my trust and support and are more capable than they may think. 

What does being a leader for other women mean to you?

Kate Brady: What does being a leader for other women mean to you?

I have 2 daughters and my main life goal is to be someone that they are proud of and may even aspire to emulate one day.  Through that I hope to pave a pathway that demonstrates to my daughters and other women how they can follow their passion, enjoy what they do and appreciate that dedication and drive are major components of a successful career. Some guidance and words of wisdom from one of my previous managers, Emily Silver, that has stuck with me is that the goal of a great leader of a team is not to be the expert for all of the work of that team, but to be there to remove barriers and obstacles that may challenge the team from delivering on their full potential. My team members were all brought on to help deliver on our collective goal and we rely on them to bring their expertise.  My job as a leader is to help support them and provide them the best and easiest pathway to do that.

How do you use your “seat at the table” to elevate the other women around you? 

Kate Brady: How do you use your “seat at the table” to elevate the other women around you?

Over the past year, I’ve been leading a female-focused mentoring pod within one of our business sectors at PepsiCo.  Through this, I’ve been able to mentor a group of 9 women (on zoom) in marketing.  We connect monthly on a variety of topics, but I am most excited when we see these women use our pod of connections to discuss and combat their challenges and I’m so honored to be able to guide and facilitate that process – and can’t wait for the day I can meet them live.  Additionally, I find the greatest pride in seeing my team succeed and I know that my team’s successes are the best examples of my capabilities as a leader.  I strive to provide as many opportunities for my team to showcase our wins in front of our leadership as possible.  It is something that I initially struggled with – concerned that the impression could be I’m just offloading work – but I now know and have learned that sharing those opportunities with my team doesn’t only provide them the spotlight to shine, but does also demonstrate my leadership skills to mentor and support their growth. 

Who was your mentor? If you didn’t have one, who inspired you the most in your career? 

Kate Brady: Who was your mentor?

I’ve never had an official designated mentor, but I have been  fortunate to have had some amazing managers through my career at PepsiCo that I look to as mentors nonetheless.  There are 2 managers that come top to mind currently – both I’ve referenced above – one is my current Manager, Shyam Venugopal, who I’ve been fortunate enough to work for over the past 2 years.  He is a true visionary and I admire his focus on progressing PepsiCo capabilities to maximize our success and future-proof our business.  He’s someone who is always thinking about 10 steps ahead of everyone else and its inspiring to watch.  Emily Silver was my manager a few years ago and while only for a short period of time, I continue to strive to replicate her management style and approach with my teams since then.  She demonstrated how be an extremely successful leader though listening and guiding vs. always being the loudest in the room.  She leads with empathy and compassion which makes her both a better marketer and an amazing leader that you truly want to work for and know you’ll learn from. 

What song, podcast, or audiobook would you recommend to your mentee?  

Kate Brady: What song, podcast, or audiobook would you recommend to your mentee?

As a big portion of my role is focused on working with the start-up community, I love listening to and learning from Guy Raz’s podcast “How I Built This” in which he interviews entrepreneurs on their companies and the struggles and insights they gathered through their endeavors.  I even bought his Audiobook (same name) for my team as a part of their holiday gift this past year.  It’s been a great wealth of knowledge on the struggles of the start-up space, but also so interesting to see the parallels we’re facing on the larger corporate side.

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