Global Team Leadership Award

Rockstar Energy Global Integration and Expansion Team


For successfully leading a global project with a geographically dispersed team; for integrating a new product into an existing brand; and for fostering collaboration and problem-solving among technical experts.

Global food and beverage company PepsiCo acquired the Rockstar Energy Beverages portfolio in 2020 as a means to expand in the growing energy drink sector. The company assembled a global team to integrate Rockstar Energy into PepsiCo’s systems while expanding into new geographic markets.

To lead this effort, PepsiCo formed the Rockstar Energy Global Integration and Expansion Team, spearheaded by Megan Padovani, research and development (R&D) senior project manager overseeing global and regional initiatives. The Rockstar Energy team comprises 85 technical functional experts located across six continents, 12 countries, and nine time zones. Establishing an expansive global team was crucial to delivering a highly complex and fast-paced agenda. The team features experts in quality assurance, nutrition sciences, product and flavor development, food safety, process and packaging engineering, microbiology, analytics, supply chain, finance and procurement, and consumer insights to certify integration and expansion efforts are delivered efficiently and in concert with cross-functional partners.

Padovani’s project leadership, along with Sydney Lawless, Ph.D., associate project manager, was central to the success of the team. They worked together to drive the team’s workstreams, set timelines, lead cross-functional communication, and manage the multimillion-dollar budget. They were committed to fostering collaboration among team members and guiding the team through problem-solving when met with challenges.

An immediate challenge was ensuring the new product met global regulatory standards that required ingredients, processes, and products be compliant with the varied rules of intended landing zones. They had to do this while also maintaining the current Rockstar Energy products on shelves for consumers throughout the acquisition process. Additionally, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team needed to streamline formula processes, handle supply chain issues, and develop a plan for delivering and breaking into new markets.

Padovani and the Rockstar Energy technical team developed interim tools and procedures to keep the momentum and were able to assess and integrate more than 250 ingredients and 150 formulas being leveraged worldwide into PepsiCo’s manufacturing and supply systems. Each area of the team — from regulatory and analytical scientists to product developers and food safety specialists — had specific responsibilities that required flexibility, coordination, regular communication, and creativity to solve for these new requirements.

Mindful of the different time zones and specific needs of the region, Padovani and Dr. Lawless scheduled regional meetings so that key stakeholders could participate. Weekly meeting cadences were essential to communicating updates, aligning next steps, and measuring progress against objectives. Both R&D managers provided reports and regular updates to directors and global leadership to ensure transparent awareness of progress, risks, and decisions needed.

Within a year, the Rockstar Energy team launched a sugar-free line of products, developed 10 additional products across different process technologies, and expanded the brand into the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, and Latin America. The Rockstar Energy Global Integration and Expansion Team has positioned Rockstar Energy to compete in 29 markets and created a readiness plan to enable more than 40 launch markets by the end of 2023.