Pepsi Cola Bugshan (formerly SIPCO) is the bottler and distributor for Pepsi Cola in Saudi Arabia’s western region and Yemen. We have around 60 people in our HR department and my remit also covers legal and corporate services.
My main challenge is finding Saudi talent willing to work in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector. This is compounded by the fact we opened one of the world’s largest Pepsi factories near Jeddah at the end of 2016 at a cost of £2.1m, which needed an additional 500 employees with the technical skills to operate modern machinery.
To fulfil this, we’ve started hiring people from all over the world. We bring in people from Kenya, Poland and other areas of the world where they operate the same bottling machinery. We also partner with institutes in these regions, which deliver technical qualifications to potential expat employees, although the qualifications differ slightly between countries.
In Saudi Arabia, we’ve built a specific two-year diploma programme, in partnership with Yanbu Technical Institute, which provides students with the skills needed to work in FMCG companies. We pay the costs of the Institute, plus a monthly allowance for students, who are registered as our employees and guaranteed a job if they pass. They join us for training in the summer holidays, and we also provide a clear development path for graduates.