After 24 years of her association with PepsiCo. with 12 years as its first foreign and women CEO, Indra Nooyi will be bidding adieu to the food & beverage giant. Having helped Pepsi gain the much needed brand visibility and sales in the North American during her initial leadership days, Indra Nooyi impressively garnered the reputation that the conglomerate enjoys today.
Born and brought up in Madras, now Chennai, Indra belonged to a conservative Tamil Brahmin family where self reliance held as much importance as getting married. Her mother, a strong women herself often told Indra and her sister Chandrika, “I want you to be married by 18 but I also want you pave your way to become a Prime Minister”. Though Indra and Chandrika didn’t intend to make their mark in politics, they did carve their own niche in business and music respectively.
Indra received her formative education in Holy Angels Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School and later graduated in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics from Madras Christian College. Though her qualification was enough for a humble household, Nooyi went ahead to make a dent in the highly competitive CAT examination where she secured an admission in IIM-Calcutta, one of the most prestigious business schools in the nation. It was more about breaking barriers for the young Nooyi who thought nothing was impossible if you set your mind to it. Post her post graduation in IIM, Indra joined Mettur Beardsell and then Johnson & Johnson, Mumbai with whom she worked on the campaigns introducing the concept of sanitary napkins to India, where the subject was still considered a taboo.
Having gained a professional experience, Nooyi thirst for further knowledge was unquenchable and she went ahead to apply for a Master’s degree at Yale. Being located abroad, her family was not very excited at the prospect of sending their young daughter overseas. However, a scholarship resolved all the problems and Nooyi soon gained her master’s in Public and Private Management from Yale School of Management in 1980.
Her following professional experience at The Boston Consulting Group, Motorola and Swiss industrial company Asea Brown Boveri introduced her to American corporate system. Post these experiences, she joined PepsiCo. as the Vice-President for Strategic Planning and slowly climbed the internal ranks, while working towards her status as one of the ‘Most Powerful Businesswomen in the World’.
It was not difficult to notice her natural flair in taking the organisation into her stride amidst the negative reputation plaguing it. Moreover, Nooyi portrayed immense gusto while she negotiated the acquisitions of the most prominent Tropicana (in 1998) and Quaker Oats (in 1999), as the then CFO, reinforcing PepsiCo. to the glory that it enjoys today.
These achievements paved the way to her professional up scaling and by 2006, Nooyi was made Chief of the American giant which ranked as the ‘Second Most Powerful Businesswomen in America’. However, with the title, came the responsibility and it more than just a bed of roses. The rapid decline in Pepsi’s credibility called for intense market research and optimized solutions that were left to Nooyi to sort. Consumers were now looking at options apart from Pepsi and that hit the brand image, severely. Indra decided to turn the wheels of the conventional operations and structured an alternative snacking option with healthier food & beverage line. A tough call to make but Indra did it and her efforts resulted in a mammoth growth where Pepsico’s reputation was restored to former glory.
PepsiCo. family has always been Nooyi’s first priority. Her employees and their families were given personal notes of encouragements that led to a drastic improvement in employee productivity. What Nooyi did was not for profits, but to genuinely appreciate her team and the employees’ efforts in bringing PepsiCo to where it is today.
Indra Nooyi will be officially resigning in the early 2019, to succeeded by Ramon Laguarta. This time will ensure a smooth and seamless transition in the operations. Nooyi now hopes to focus on her family which she feels compromised but supported her incessantly for 24 years. Being an Indian origin and a businesswomen herself, she seeks to take on the role of a mentor for various business talents starting out and bring out the best that the young minds have to offer to industry.
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