Partnering For Success
This case study focuses on the successful employment and advancement of one of PepsiCo’s high performance employees who is a person in a professional position and who is blind. The case study highlights the partnership between the employee and employer and the roles each plays in acquiring the tools needed for career success and advancement. The individual not only arrived for the initial job interview thoroughly knowledgeable on what software PepsiCo used but prepared to present how he could do the job with assistive technology. Following his acceptance of the job offer, PepsiCo purchased the assistive technology that the employee requested and most products were in place when the he arrived for his first day of work. The employee has enjoyed a successful 10-year career at PepsiCo as a high performing programmer and designer and the partnership continues.
Winning with diversity and inclusion is one of six guiding principles that uphold PepsiCo’s commitment to delivering sustained growth through empowered people acting responsibly and building trust.
The Pepsi brand pioneered marketing and national lifestyle advertising designed to serve minority communities. Groundbreaking initiatives have included music, education and sports programs.
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PepsiCo Business+Information Solutions (BIS) employee Jay Macarty has been blind since birth. He was hired as a programmer by PepsiCo more than 10 years ago in our Plano, Texas BIS headquarter location.
In preparation for his interview with PepsiCo, Jay researched the programming tools used at PepsiCo and downloaded the trial versions. Having discovered that some of the tools in use were compatible with his screen reading software and others were not, Jay created an alternate path to accomplish the same work using tools that would work with his screen reading software. As a result, Jay came to the interview prepared to show his interviewers how he would complete his work at or above the standards expected by PepsiCo.
The one concern Jay’s management had during the interview process was how Jay would complete his work and what tools would be needed. During the interview, Jay effectively demonstrated his alternate path using the tools that work for him. The interviewers, meanwhile, were pleased that he had answered the interview questions for which they themselves did not have answers.
PepsiCo wanted to hire Jay as a programmer and upon learning how he would complete his work, the offer was made and the tools Jay needed were purchased. His management has been supportive of the all tools Jay needs to accomplish his work and has not refused to get him any tools he needs.
Upon receiving a formal offer, Jay’s manager asked him to make a list of the tools he would require to perform a programming job. He requested speech software ($1,500), a portable note taking device with Braille and speech capabilities ($3,000), and a Braille display ($10,000). This equipment was purchased and most was at his workstation when he reported for his first day on the job. A few years later, Jay requested and received a Braille printer.
Jay is currently a designer of applications and this role requires him to present ideas and plans to his internal clients using PowerPoint, which can be a challenge for a user who is blind. Jay works with his team to talk through the creation of diagrams and presentation materials, as there is no technology available to create or read diagrams for a user who is blind.
When Jay encountered a need to work in JAVA language which was not compatible with screen readers he worked on his own time to make this language accessible to screen readers. He has since shared this knowlege with the manufacturer of the screen reader to enable any programmer who is blind to use the JAVA language with a screen reader.
Jay has been a high performing programmer and designer at PepsiCo for more than 10 years. He has formed a true partnership with his management and his internal clients. He lets management knows what he needs and owns making it work for him. His next project includes writing applications for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod that will allow any PepsiCo user to retrieve and analyze business information on the go. As Jay is learning this unique Apple language, he will ensure these applications will be accessible through screen readers and other tools a user who is blind uses.
Jay’s dedication to identifying and employing alternate path solutions is a valuable asset to PepsiCo that goes beyond his individual productivity. Due to his extensive knowledge and experience, Jay was a key member of a cross-functional committee that designed and implemented an enterprise-wide accessible technology policy for PepsiCo in 2009.
Jay has consistently demonstrated his ownership of a solution and there has been no hesitation in getting him the tools he needs. As an added value, Jay’s innovative thinking has helped to set accessible technology standards for other PepsiCo workers with sight impairments. This is an example of a very productive partnership.
Jay is a member of O’Reilly’s website, which provides technical manuals in a format usable by users who are blind. He is also on mailing lists that help programmers who are blind network and share solutions.