My mentor

Clare Chapman, HR director at Tesco, on Ronnie Miller,
vice-president of HR for the international division at Pepsi-Cola, who has been
her role model since their time together at the global beverage company

One little piece of advice by Clare Chapman’s mentor saved her six months on
a big recruitment project.

Ronnie Miller, the former vice-president of HR Asian Pacific at Pepsi-Cola,
told Chapman to always "ask for forgiveness, not permission".

Chapman, Tesco’s HR director, has always heeded the advice. When she started
a new role for Pepsi-Cola, as the vice-president of HR for eastern Europe and
central Asia, she had to build up her team as the drinks company entered a new

Instead of waiting for final approval from the company’s head office, Miller
urged her to get on with recruiting the personnel she needed.

It saved her a lot of time. "I recruited the team and when we did get
permission the team started straight away. We were able to hit the ground
running because I did not have to wait the three to six months that it would
have taken to hire the team," she explains.

Chapman also admires Miller’s open-mindedness and determination.
"Ronnie taught me to be bold. She was also such a safe sparring partner –
I would phone her up and we would have frank discussions, which meant that I
took risks faster," she says.

"She is very smart with a great sense of humour and is non-judgemental.
I have also tried to be non-judgemental, patient and understanding before
giving an opinion."

Miller is currently vice-president of HR for the international beverage
division at Pepsi-Cola.

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