My Morning Routine: Mohamed Shelbaya, PepsiCo Egypt
Mohamed Shelbaya, PepsiCo Egypt CEO and chairman: Each week, My Morning Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Mohamed Shelbaya, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Egypt (LinkedIn). Edited excerpts from our conversation:
My name is Mohamed Shelbaya. I’m an Egyptian, a family man, an ex-basketball player, a PepsiCo executive — and a guy that doesn't take life too seriously. I’ve been with Pepsi for 28 years now, and have had 12 or 15 different roles, though I've been CEO and chairman for six years.
A big part of my responsibility is taking care of the people because they are the ones who deliver the results. The second part is looking ahead. My job is to set our strategic priorities, make sure that we plan five years ahead, and that as we go into a year, we've planned for it well and made the right investments.
I like to wake up early at around 5am. For me, the best time to work is in those couple of hours in the morning. There's no disturbance, which is great for things that require me to make decisions. Then I go and work out at 7am for an hour, come back home, have my breakfast, and head to the office to start my meetings, which carry me into the evening.
The one thing I try to make a constant in my day is sports. It clears the mind, re-energizes the body and helps me de-stress. The days where I don't play sports, the stress gets to me. Given all the pressures and problems that come up every day, I found that I need to give my body and mind just enough time to de-stress and start the next day afresh.
When it comes to focusing and staying organized, I think that having the right team and having people onboard that are experts in their fields is crucial. That way, you get the right information that helps you focus and helps you make the right decision.
I like to relax at the end of day by watching TV. I like documentaries and comedies — usually something that doesn’t require a lot of attention and can help me relax. I also like to chat with friends that have nothing to do with work. I think laughter is the best way to unwind after a stressful day.
I recently watched a documentary that I really liked called the Redeem Team. I love sports and sports analogies, and I believe there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from sports — like the fact that it's not about the ability of the players, it's about creating the right culture for the team to succeed. That’s what we do in business. We succeed together as a team, or we lose together as a team.
Honestly, I don’t think I have a healthy work-life balance, and I think that a balance is impossible. What I've learned through the years is that it's about quality, not balance. So I try to switch off from work when I go on vacation with the family or if I go out for lunch or dinner. It’s about creating memories that last. You can attend all your kids’ games, but when you attend, you have to be all in. It's the worst thing to go and attend your kid’s game and you’re on the phone all the time. If you’re with your family, be here now. And if you’re at work, be here now.
I'm at a stage in my career where my priority is to give back. I've reached the top role here. It’s not about getting more and more roles now, it’s about what I can give back to my country, to the youth — what can I contribute? At this point of time, I find a lot of pleasure and value in giving back to the youth, passing on my experiences, sponsoring, and doing CSR work that helps the economy.
On a personal level, I hope to spend more time with my family, play more sports, and check things off my bucket list — like going to watch the Olympics and a game at the World Cup.
The best piece of advice I’ve received was from one of my earlier bosses: A career is a marathon, not a sprint. I was very impatient at the beginning to get promoted and grow, and my boss was always saying, “Build the foundation. Don't worry about who’s getting promoted ahead of you. You’re going to be stronger and at the end of the marathon, you’re going to be in the lead.”