How A Frito-Lay Janitor Rose To Corporate Executive

<b class="credit">Telemundo Arizona</b>
Telemundo Arizona

Every once in a while the American Dream of a worker climbing the ladder to the top turns into a reality. One worker who can speak of such a life is Richard Montañez, who is currently the Executive Vice President of Multicultural Sales and Community Activation for Pepsico North America. The 55-year old, who was born in Mexico, didn't take a traditional route to the executive suite of corporate America. Montañez has never completed college, nor high school, though he now teaches leadership to MBA students at a California state university.

Not too shabby for an immigrant who started his American professional career as a janitor. How did he do it? Back in the 1970's, Montañez was working as a custodian for Frito-Lay's plant in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. And in his spare time he came up with a spicy recipe including chili powder for the company's famous Cheetos, thus creating Flamin' Hot Cheetos, according to a report by the Kansas City Star. He was able to get a meeting with the company CEO to pitch the idea, and nearly three decades later the line is consistently a best-selling brand at convenience stores throughout the country.