The lady with a fizz, Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi is the chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, the world’s fourth-largest food and Beverage Company. An Indian-born American executive, Nooyi was ranked No.4 on Forbes magazine’s annual survey of the 100 most powerful women in the world. Prior to becoming CEO she was the President, Chief Financial Officer and a member of the Board of Directors of PepsiCo Inc.
Belonging to a South Indian family, Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi was born on October 28, 1955 in Tamil Nadu, India. Her father worked at the State Bank of Hyderabad and her grandfather was a district judge. She completed her schooling from Holy Angels AIHSS, Chennai and received a Bachelor’s degree in Physics, Chemistry and Maths from Madras Christian College in 1974. On completion of her graduation she went to Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta for doing Masters in Finance and Marketing. According to the faculty members Nooyi has been a very mediocre student.
After completion of her MBA she joined ABB and then Johnson and Johnson (J&J) in Mumbai as a product manager. One of her achievement with J&J is her close association with launch of the sanitary napkin, Stayfree. Not satisfied with the way her career was going Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi persuaded her parents to let her study at Yale Management School in US and earned a Master’s degree in Public and Private Management in 1978. While studying at Yale she worked as a receptionist to buy a western suit for her first job interview. Being uncomfortable with the outfit she was rejected. For her next interview her professor advised her to stick to what she was comfortable with. She wore a sari and got the job and this philosophy of ‘be yourself’ she followed for the rest of her career.
Before landing in Pepsi, world’s second largest soft-drink company Nooyi worked with Boston Consulting Group and Motorola. Nooyi coaxed the CEO Roger Enrico of the Pepsi to follow-up the company’s restaurant division, including brands such KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, as the chief strategy officer.
Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi was elected to PepsiCo’s Board of Directors and became President and Chief Financial Officer in 2001, after serving as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since 2000. Nooyi also served as PepsiCo’s Senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Development from 1996 until 2000, and as PepsiCo’s Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning from 1994 until 1996.In 2006, Nooyi surpassed everybody’s imagination, when she was named the successor to Steven Reinemund as chief executive officer of Pepsi Co. According to Business Week, since she started as CFO in 2000 the company’s annual revenues have risen 72%, while net profit more than doubled, to USD 5.6 billion in 2006.
With her superb knack of facts and figures she predicted the slowdown in the popularity of aerated soft drinks in the markets worldwide. She meticulously planned for the foray of Pepsi into the sport drinks market in association with Gatorade. Her quick decision making ability and clinging to the work until it’s accomplished continues to grow PepsiCo, the USD 39 billion food and beverage giant. Focusing on innovation instead of acquisition, the company has been debuting new product lines, targeted marketing and repackaging efforts since 2009. The group also launched a “Refresh Everything” campaign, featuring Pepsi Natural, made with all-natural ingredients, and Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback, inspired by designs of the 1960s and ’70s.
Speaking of her achievements, Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi is the 12th highest paid corporate woman in the US, with an annual pay package of over USD 12.7 million, according to Forbes magazine. She shares the world’s most 100 most powerful women list with the likes of Condoleeza Rice, Sonia Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey and Hilary Clinton. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2007. Nooyi has been named the ‘Most Powerful Business Woman in the world’ in 2006 and 2007 by Fortune magazine. Presently, there are only 10 Fortune 500 companies that are run by women. Nooyi is the 11th to break into the top echelons of power. The Cola giant chairperson serves as an Honorary Co-Chair for the World Justice Project.
Describing herself as an ordinary girl she still retains so much of her Indianness and dons sari with bindi in most of the office ceremonies. She believes the corporate world appreciates people who are genuine. She views PepsiCo as an extended family. Being a woman, immigrant and of different race made it thrice difficult for Nooyi to reach to this position but the only mantra which she followed was working twice hard as the male counterpart. A mother of two daughters, she has an inclination towards arts and is a member of the Boards of the Lincoln Center for the performing Arts in the New York City. Nature wise she is simple, chirpy and has a great sense of humour. She comes as personality sans controversy.
At the age of 55, Nooyi rise to power has lit up fire in every mediocre soul that nothing is impossible for the determined and strong willed person, the only thing being required is the perseverance.
The Iron woman of PepsiCo motto is, “Brands go through ups and downs. I think every five or seven years, you’ve got to change out the approach to the brand, because you need a new boost of energy to think about the next iteration. Too many brands, when they are successful, just become arrogant and get trapped in their very self confidence.”