Bill Eaton, Wentworth Institute of Technology

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An expert with more than 20 years of beverage and consumer goods packaging development experience, Bill Eaton, director of R&D packaging engineering and

innovation in the Global Beverages Group at PepsiCo, got into the packaging field more or less by chance.

After graduating from Wentworth, the construction management major entered a bleak job market in the early 1990s. He nearly accepted a project management position in Kuwait before starting his own business remodeling kitchens and bathrooms in his native Connecticut. A client happened to be a human resources officer at Cadbury Schweppes.

“She mentioned a job in their packaging lab,” Eaton says. “She said, ‘it’s kind of technical—you might be interested.” At his interview, Eaton was introduced to workers who were measuring and testing bottles and thinking, “This is probably not for me.” But when he was offered a position with the company, he took it.

“One of the first projects I worked on was called Mott’s in a Minute,” Eaton recalls. “It was a shelf-stable juice concentrate in a can—the first of its kind. We spent a lot of time in our pilot plant running these cans and testing them. That technical detail was really interesting to me.”

Eaton moved to Pepsico in 2007. His first project was one that had challenged colleagues for years—designing a one-gallon PET bottle for Lipton tea with an integrated snap-on handle.

“I used a lot of the knowledge I retained from school to design the structural elements that were hidden inside the handle,” Eaton says. “I recalled bridge theory to design the handle so it wouldn’t bend, and worked with designers to integrate the handle design.” The end product—including the handle and cap—was lighter than the competition’s bottle alone. It was a hit.

Today, Eaton leads a group that works with marketing teams and design agencies to take bottles and other packaging innovations from concept to development. His latest project involved moving Pepsi—which had been in the same bottle for nearly 16 years—and other core brands into new bottle designs.

“It’s really about keeping the brand fresh and connected with the consumer,” Eaton says. The latest 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottle, he explains, “is kind of edgy. It fits with the consumer who drinks Mountain Dew—the gamer, the skateboarder. The package has design elements that specifically point out those attributes, and consumers really pick up on them.”

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