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Innovation Comes From You — Not Your Degree featuring Fumi James (Watanabe), PepsiCo

In a large organization like PepsiCo, it’s easy to feel intimidated by the world-class leaders surrounding you. How can you overcome your fears in order to contribute?

Remember that you’re in the room for a reason. It doesn’t matter if you have a PhD from a prestigious university or a degree from a community college. You’ve honed your skills over years of success and failure through the hard knocks of life. Your unique perspective and experiences are a strength to any organization. What makes you different from everyone else is exactly what makes you valuable — no one can replace you.

In this episode of the Gooder Podcast, Diana Fryc is joined by Fumi James, the Senior Director of Global Foods and Breakthrough Innovations Brand Design for PepsiCo, to discuss why experience outweighs advanced degrees. Fumi shares the story of her humble beginnings, how she developed a strategic design mindset, and why she values portfolios over educational background. She also talks about how to cultivate a work environment that values diversity and inclusion.

In this episode we learn: 

  • Fumi James describes her role at PepsiCo and how it’s shifted to focus on sustainability
  • How Fumi used her passion for the arts to build a career in graphic design and branding
  • The mindset shift from decoration to strategic thinking
  • Fumi describes the moment she felt empowered to take her career to the next level
  • What lessons did Fumi learn from her challenges and setbacks?
  • The power of saying “no”
  • Advice for creative thinkers who are just starting out
  • How you can cultivate an environment where both introverts and extroverts feel free to contribute
  • What are brands losing when they don’t nurture and grow diversity in design?
  • Why Fumi prioritizes portfolios over advanced degrees
  • Fumi gives a shout out to other creative women in the industry and discusses trends she’s tracking
Gooder Podcast

Innovation Comes From You — Not Your Degree featuring Fumi James (Watanabe), PepsiCo

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About Fumi James (Watanabe): 

Fumi James (Watanabe) is the Senior Director of Global Foods and Breakthrough Innovations Brand Design for PepsiCo. Fumi is a passionate, creative thinker experienced in leading teams to deliver beautiful and purpose-driven brand design. She’s helped lead the design for campaigns like the “Pepsi Generation” and Pure Leaf’s “No is Beautiful.” Fumi is also a champion of creative diversity and maximizing individual strengths in a team.

Fumi began her 15+ years of branding and retail expertise at Starbucks Coffee Company before joining PepsiCo in 2016. As the Creative Manager at Starbucks, she built a top-performing in-house design team, managed multiple re-brandings and promotions, and led packaging redesigns.

Guests Social Media Links: 

LinkedIn Fumi James:



Show Resources: 

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo

Retail Voodoo has been building beloved and dominant brands in the food, wellness, beverage, and fitness CPG industries for over 30 years. They’ve served multinational companies like PepsiCo. and Starbucks, startups like High Key, and everything in between. 

Their proven process guides hundreds of mission-driven consumer brands to attract a broad and passionate fan base, crush their categories through growth and innovation, and magnify their social and environmental impact. 

So, if you are ready to find a partner that will help your business create a high-impact strategy that gives your brand an advantage, Retail Voodoo is here to help.

Visit or email to learn more.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana