Cheetos Flamin’ Hot is now the biggest selling, single-serve SKU in the company. The success of the product influenced and created the first Frito-Lay Hispanic marketing team. Rather than rest on this accomplishment, Richard instead fills his days with ways that serve to nurture our country’s future leaders. He’s worked with PepsiCo to develop college scholarships directly catered to minorities and the less fortunate. He has also launched the Continuous Improvement Initiative, and helped influence Hispanic products and marketing promotions for KFC and Taco Bell. These experiences are not lost on Richard who knows that uplifting others has been the key to his success. “I’ve worked on Capitol Hill, I’ve worked with [former California] Governor Schwarzenegger, and I’ve worked on efficiency teams. The fact that I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by great people, like my mentors Roger Enrico and Al Carey, and that I get to meet and help so many current and future leaders, constantly inspires me,” Richard says. “I’ve never had a bad year with the company because of my passion and the fact that I’ve worked with so many great people. Thirty-four years in and I’m still excited about what I’m doing.”

Richard has been recognized by Hispanic lifestyle magazine as one of the most influential Hispanics in Corporate America, and he’s been featured in Newsweek and Fortune 500 magazine. An even greater feat, Richard and his wife have been married for more than 30 years, and he is the father to three sons and has four grandchildren. “I want my kids and the kids I speak to across the country to understand the importance of education and the value of having self-confidence,” Richard says. “Once I got a hold of confidence and realized who I was, it gave me a different sense of power and accomplishment. When you feel that way you can light up the room, not because you own material things,” Richard says from his warehouse, which is used to store the food and toys he gives to needy children. “Get your education and have confidence. A lot of times, growing up in the ’hood, there isn’t much to be confident about. Chances are you’ve been broke, you’ve been hungry, and you feel like you don’t have anything. Well, I’ve been there too, but instead of that stopping me it made me succeed,” Richard says. “I may not have a degree, but I read a book a week. People tell me that with the knowledge I have, I should have a PhD. I tell them, ‘I’ve had a PhD since I was a kid: I was poor, hungry, and determined!’”

Richard has used his life experience to influence not only the gente but the world at large. That same nervous little boy who was embarrassed of his lunch is a living testament that you can make it in this world if you accept who you are, carry yourself unselfishly and confidently, and learn as much as you can from others. “I believe that God made us all unique and that you have a genetic code that no one else has. In all the ages of time there has never been or will ever be anyone like you. We are all gifted, and when you find your purpose, you find your gift. I tell my children to never let any man, woman, or society tell you who you are. You know who you are, and you’re destined for greatness.” Spoken like a true leader.

Kits for kidz ™and Feed The Children are just a few of the charitable programs that PepsiCo Sales Executive Richard Montanez demonstrates his passion to help the needy. He says “True performance with purpose begins by serving in all communities across our country, especially during rough economic times.”