INDIRA NOOYI: PepsiCo’s first Female CEO Making India Proud since October 1955!

Chehneet Kaur 

“..the more we can break the rules, the better off we’re going to be..” says this Indian-American business woman. She is consistently among the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. Yes! You’re guessing it right, she’s the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi. This woman, who was born in Madras to a Tamil family was ranked 13 on the list of Forbes World’s 100 most powerful women in 2014. Since Indra Nooyi became the Chief Finance Officer in 2001, Pepsi’s net profit rose from $2.7 billion to $6.5 billion. She was named the President and CEO in 2006 replacing Steven Reinemund, becoming the fifth CEO in PepsiCo’s 44-year history. With her constant hard work to set a foot as a first-generation immigrant in the United States, Indra Nooyi was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2007 and on 14 December 2013 she was awarded by the President of India Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Before joining PepsiCo, Nooyi worked at Johnson & Johnson. She has also held various positions at Boston Consulting Group, Asea Brown Boveri, and Motorola.

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In the case of Nooyi the saying goes ‘behind every successful woman, there is a woman’ as her mother has been a great inspiration for her since childhood. Nooyi claimed in an interview that “Even though my mother didn’t work and didn’t go to college, she lived a life vicariously through her daughters, so she gave us that confidence to be whatever we wanted to be. That was an incredibly formative experience in my youth”. The woman who seems to be the ‘commerce queen’ wasn’t actually the same since childhood. Nooyi received a bachelor’s degrees in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics from Madras Christian College of the University of Madras and was also the lead guitarist of an all girls’ band. She had also been a part of an all girls’ cricket team. Against her parents’ advice, she came to the United States in 1978 at age 23 to earn her Public and Private Management at Yale where she worked as a dorm receptionist—opting for the graveyard shift because it paid an extra 50 cents per hour. Not just in the business world, Indra has managed to excel in her personal life too. Nooyi has two daughters, one of which studies at Yale. Forbes ranked her at the 3rd spot among ‘World’s Powerful Moms’ list.

After 24 years of service Nooyi will quit PepsiCo on October 12. She will serve as the chairman until her successor, PepsiCo president Ramon Laguarta takes charge by 2019.

Being an inspiration to many and a prominent flag-bearer of the new age wonder woman, she claimed “In my heart I said, ‘I can do this better than anyone else can, and if everything else fails, they’re going to come to me and say, ‘Fix it,’ because I know I’m that good,”. “Remember, I could be the President of India!”



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