It’s not every day that a student steps into a co-op position and creates something that improves efficiency within a major division of a multi-national corporation.
But CiQuinya Morton is no ordinary student.
Working for PepsiCo right as the pandemic hit, she developed a quicker, more user-friendly sales reporting tool for customer outlets like gas stations, convenience stores and restaurants across Canada. These were some of the hardest hit by the pandemic, so reporting sales in a timely manner was crucial. Meanwhile, the tool she developed is still being used by the financial leadership team within the company.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to work on that project,” said Morton, a fourth-year U of T Scarborough management student specializing in accounting.
“You don’t always get to make an impact of this magnitude as a student, and to receive recognition from their financial leadership was a humbling experience."
That work experience helped Morton recently land the Co-op Student of the Year Award from the Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL). The annual award recognizes outstanding co-op and work-integrated learning (WIL) achievements by college and university students across Canada.
During her time at PepsiCo, Morton was also involved in the company’s MOSAIC program, an employee resource that supports equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives. This consisted of giving presentations to directors on best practices and recommendations to recruit, enrich and retain talent from diverse backgrounds. Her recommendations included bringing on culture coaches from the same background as employees and widening the company’s recruitment net to include schools with large Black student associations.
Prateek Bose, foodservice finance manager at PepsiCo, said Morton stood out for helping improve the company’s sales forecasting process and for her work on EDI.
“She had an impact through her leadership and commitment to driving a more inclusive culture at PepsiCo,” says Bose.
Morton says she is a fan of many of the company’s products, so being able to combine her skills with her passion and experience advancing EDI made for a memorable work term. She says the fact some of her ideas continue to be used by the company is the icing on the cake.
Morton’s commitment to EDI has been a common thread during her time at U of T Scarborough. She is the co-president of the Black Students in Business Association, a student group dedicated to connecting students of colour with professional networks and job opportunities.
She also hosted the 2019 LEAD conference, an annual event connecting Black high school students with U of T Scarborough undergrads, faculty and alumni to inspire them to pursue post-secondary studies, and also volunteers with the Imani Academic Mentorship Program that helps Black elementary and high school students across Scarborough pursue post-secondary studies. The main goal of both programs is to help encourage students pursue fields they may be interested in but may not necessarily see themselves due to a lack of representation.
“I strive to build pathways for other students of colour,” says Morton, an international student from Saint Kitts and Nevis.
“As a woman and person of colour, I try to be aware that I’m not just representing myself, but other students who may come after me. I always try to remain humble and just put my best foot forward, whether it’s through volunteering or my work terms.”
She says gaining “soft skills” through volunteer experience really helped her immediately fit in and succeed during her work term. Her advice for other students is to pursue the same opportunities not necessarily found in the classroom.
“Volunteering helped me grow as an individual, and those skills were instrumental during my co-op term,” says Morton, who plans to pursue her CPA following graduation and eventually start her own business.
“You get to meet different people, learn from their experiences and also learn more about yourself. It’s truly inspiring being able to give back. I can’t recommend it enough.”