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Real Humans of PepsiCo: Maria Deloso, Berkeley Haas, MBA ’23, Associate Marketing Manager

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When Maria Deloso wanted to build upon her career in food marketing, she knew she needed to learn more about general management, strategic thinking, and consensus-building. In this Real Humans: Alumni, Deloso describes how her experience in sustainable food led her to the MBA program at Berkeley Haas. Haas provided the skillset necessary for Deloso to find success in defining innovation strategies at PepsiCo and incorporating company initiatives into her projects. 

Maria Deloso, Berkeley Haas, MBA ’23, Associate Marketing Manager at PepsiCo

Age: 30
Hometown: Pasadena, CA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Stanford University: BS Earth Systems (Humans & the Environment), Minor Economics
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Driscoll’s – Brand Marketing (2 years), Bon Appetit Management Company – Marketing (3 years)
Post-MBA Work Experience: Associate Marketing Manager, Innovation (Tostitos, Fritos, Santitas, La Cocina de Josefina), PepsiCo, 6 months, CPG 

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I attended business school to build upon my career in food marketing. During undergrad, my work experiences spanned the sustainable food realm, from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to working back of house in a commercial kitchen. I never expected to fall into marketing. After graduating, I ended up at the corporate headquarters of a sustainable food service company, where I fell into the marketing department, running marketing initiatives for 1000 cafeterias across the US. That role showed me that I enjoyed working at the intersection of marketing and food, which led me to join Driscoll’s brand marketing team. It was exhilarating to work on Driscoll’s premium berry lines (Sweetest Batch™ and Rosé Berries™) as well as developing evergreen in-store merchandising. These marketing experiences in food service and fresh produce led me to apply to business school to build upon my food brand management career.

Why Haas? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
There were many reasons I went with Haas. Before I knew that business school was right for me, I had always admired UC Berkeley’s sustainable food ecosystem. Whether it was Haas’ annual Edible Education 101 course sponsored by Alice Waters or the Berkeley Food Institute, I knew that both Haas and the broader UC Berkeley community had many opportunities to meet others passionate about food systems. I chose Haas because I knew that the smaller cohort and the Defining Leadership Principles (Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself) would be the right community to refine my business acumen and management skills, while staying connected to my roots in the sustainable food arena.

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
As an Associate Marketing Manager on Innovation, I get to define my brands’ short and long-term innovation strategies, partner with cross-functionals to understand how to best execute these plans, and incorporate PepsiCo Positive (pep+) initiatives into my projects. Haas was key for this role, not only for the marketing and sustainable food courses, but more importantly, learning key skill sets from talented peers. The frequent group projects and club leadership opportunities allowed me to refine my skills in general management, strategic thinking, and consensus-building. 

What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned at PepsiCo’s Plano, TX office where I developed a Gen Z Late Night Recipe Strategy for Doritos. I loved the process of turning consumer insights into an actionable story. Interning at PepsiCo validated the excitement that I get from working on consumer products that you see in the grocery store.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I was recruited for PepsiCo through the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management. In the same way that I chose Haas for its culture, I knew that my future employer would need to care about DEI. I was drawn to PepsiCo for their DEI commitments and talented marketing team. Interning in person allowed me to see these principles in practice and helped me decide that PepsiCo would be the right place for me post-MBA. 

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Recruiting through Consortium was particularly helpful for me, as it allowed me to filter for target companies and meet CPG professionals who had similar values. 

–One thing you would change or do differently as part of the job search?
Since I did early Summer recruiting, I wish I had gotten a head start on my brand management case prep. The networking to interviewing cycle comes around so quickly, and it would have helped to have started preparations back in Spring.

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
PepsiCo’s interview process went much more quickly than I had anticipated, particularly since I had done summer recruiting. Fortunately, my marketing background made interview prep easier.

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
The MBA program can sometimes be its own bubble within the larger parent institution. Don’t be afraid to attend events run by your parent institution’s graduate student communities – doing so will widen your perspectives and build connections beyond your business school cohort.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.