PepsiCo on August 6 announced that their chief executive officer Indra Nooyi will be stepping down from her post on October 3. The company stated that it had decided to appoint Ramon Laguarta to replace Nooyi. The India born Nooyi is the first foreign-born CEO in the history of PepsiCo and is also the first woman to take up that position in the company. And now, when she is ending an era, we can’t help but peek into her life and marvel at the fact that once she was to get married at an early age, but destiny had other plans for her.
/ AFP PHOTO / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / SPENCER PLATT
Born in Madras, Nooyi had a very strict and rigid upbringing. Speaking to Makers in an interview, she revealed that she was a tomboy and a girl when she needed to be. She calls herself as ‘one of the most complex personalities.’ ‘I was a student, I was a daughter, I was everything,” she had said.
A graduate from the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta at the age of 21, Nooyi was pressurised by her mother to get married, when she turned 22. But her father came to her rescue, who said he wouldn’t discriminate between the boys and the girls in their family. When one looks back at that aspect of her life, realization hits as to how difficult it was for girls to make a dream come true. Kudos to Nooyi’s father for being the anchor of her journey.
CEO of Pepsi Indra Nooyi looks on before a luncheon with French President Emmanuel Macron and US Vice President Mike Pence at the US State Department in Washington, DC on April 24, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS
“It’s an unacceptable age to graduate from business school. People don’t even finish undergraduate before they’re 21 or 22, and so, even though I had worked in India for two years, I found that I didn’t have a lot of the expertise, the deep knowledge, the business acumen, and I just loved looking at everything end to end,” she said.
Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994 and had worked her way up the ladder to become the CFO in 2001. Later she replaced Steven Reinemund as the company’s CEO. Her most notable achievements include the acquisition of Tropicana in 1998 and the merger with Quaker Oats Company. She also led PepsiCo’s restructuring, which included the 1997 divesture of Tricon, which is now known as Yum Brands!
Indra K. Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, speaks during a reception for the US-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue Summit at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP PHOTO / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI
Nooyi worked at PepsiCo for 24 years and was CEO for 12 years. In a statement, she said that leading the company was an honour of a lifetime and she is proud of everything it has done over the 12 years. “Growing up in India, I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to lead such an extraordinary company,” Nooyi said. “PepsiCo today is in a strong position for continued growth with its brightest days still ahead,” read her statement.
With Indra Nooyi stepping down, a whole era has come to an end. But what continues, is the path that she has set for a multitude of girls out there, the will to dream, and the passion to achieve it.