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Dec 20, 2022

Faces of Innovation: Todd Newman, Keurig Dr. Pepper Inc.

Innovation is a practice often misunderstood in the world of business. Many might consider it just a word that can be used to make an organization’s work sound fresh, or may even think all work can be considered innovative. To gain more insight into what this practice really looks like, we invite industry experts to our podcast, "Faces of Innovation," to discuss what it means to invest, create, and lead with innovation.


By Alex Pavlou

Founder - I help organizations and startups scale their teams.

Throughout our innovation podcasts, we have often heard that many innovation leaders didn’t start there. It was an industry focus that found them along the way as they got curious about the deeper connections between humans and what we create. This narrative rang true for Todd Newman, VP of Beverage Innovation at Keurig Dr. Pepper. 

He shares that his career journey to innovation has no solid origin story, spending the first decade bouncing around consulting, sales, and the tech industry. Eventually, one position was centered around design thinking and the journey of insight. This role shifted his perspective and got him excited about innovation. In his words, “consumers are really fun to figure out.”

On our podcast, Faces of Innovation, Newman shares his insights on how to navigate economic changes and what the future of innovation might look like. Read to discover a little bit about his perspective and listen to the full episode here. 


Balancing Initiatives and Budgets

The recession is a hot topic for many business leaders right now, especially when discussing innovation. “I was doing innovation work in the last crisis in 2008,” Newman shares. “It's really, really tough to maintain the discipline to invest in longer bets when you're worried about the bottom line quarter to quarter.”

Investing in what is guaranteed to bring in revenue during hard economic times is a smart move, but it’s important to think long-term. While your short-term goals may stay balanced, what happens on the other side of the recession?

Newman encourages leaders to look past immediate solutions and continue to invest in innovation. “What’s interesting is those investments paid out three years post-recession after the recovery in a 30% valuation premium.

"Those who innovate through a crisis, who find a way to do that, develop a significant competitive advantage. They have a multi-year lead in terms of a pipeline that can generate those returns once there's a recovery.”

- Todd Newman, Vice President of Beverage Innovation at Keurig Dr. Pepper Inc.


Opportunities to Expand Innovation

Despite looming economic difficulties, there is still significant buzz and excitement about the future. The recession is a short-term financial hit that we all must strategize to survive. While this is a priority, keeping sight - and investments - on a booming future is key as well.

“We've been thinking about the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning to design,” Newman says when asked about the future of CPG (consumer packaged goods).

“I think design-centered innovation and new ways that we can use this type of technology is really empowering.” 

- Todd Newman, Vice President of Beverage Innovation at Keurig Dr. Pepper Inc.

Newman notes that while machine learning is an exciting tool, it can’t replace or cheapen the cost of consumer research, “especially when you're dealing with established brand equities where the cost of being wrong is real.”

When it comes to hiring talent, he wants big thinkers who can strategize for the present while making big plans for the future. “We at Keurig Dr. Pepper have built a competency into our talent model called a doable mind. What we mean by that is the ability to simultaneously acknowledge the business we are as well as imagine the business we could be.

 “It's completely different sides of the brain - one is the creative side, and the other is the analytical deductive side. Making connections, validating hypotheses, and creating and telling stories with rigorous data and analysis. It's tough to recruit people for both of those things.”

When you find a doable mind, they can become a major factor in outlining the future of innovation in an organization. They are, in Newman’s experience, the future faces of innovation. 

If you’re eager to make your own head-first dive into the innovation industry, be sure to contact Alex Pavlou to hear more about open roles and register with Bamboo Crowd for other opportunities and insights.

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