Indra Nooyi will step down as CEO, says PepsiCo

PepsiCo Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi.   | Photo Credit: Kamal Narang

Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi will step down as the CEO of PepsiCo after 12 years in the position, the company announced on Monday. Taking over the reins of the global giant in 2006, Ms. Nooyi steered the company though the 2008 financial crisis and herself remained in the spotlight as one of the most powerful women on the planet.

"Growing up in India, I never imagined I'd have the opportunity to lead such an extraordinary company,” she said in a statement. "Leading PepsiCo has truly been the honour of my lifetime, and I'm incredibly proud of all we have done over the past 12 years to advance the interests not only of shareholders, but all our stakeholders in the communities we serve.”

Ms. Nooyi, 62, grew up in Chennai where she studied at the Madras Christian College. She went to the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata before coming to the U.S in 1980 for a second master’s degree at the Yale School of Management. In India, she played cricket and was lead guitarist in an all-girl rock band. “She has been a relentless champion of India-U.S partnership,” said Mukesh Aghi, President of the U.S-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF). Ms. Nooyi is a member of the USISPF board. She had earlier served as chair of the US - India Business Council.

"She has delivered strong and consistent financial performance, managing with an eye toward not only the short-run, but the long-run as well. As CEO, she grew revenue more than 80%, outperforming our peers and adding a new billion-dollar brand almost every other year. And shareholders have benefited: $1,000 invested in PepsiCo in 2006 is worth more than two-and-a-half times that amount today,” said Ian Cook, presiding director of the PepsiCo's Board of Directors. PepsiCo grew slower than its main rival Coco Cola in the meantime. The company’s stock rose after the announcement.

Ms. Nooyi has been overseeing 260,000 global employees of the company that has under its umbrella, Frito-Lay chips, Tropicana juices, Gatorade, Quaker foods, and several soft drink brands including Pepsi. Ms. Nooyi tried to reposition the company’s image at a time consumers are increasingly wary of junk food. Under her, PepsiCo began focussing on products that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and gave an emphasis on less sugar and fat. She has said this transformation would be a long-drawn one.

What happens when the C.E.O, especially the female C.E.O, goes home at night, she was asked by an interviewer once. “Don’t try to pretend that you’re still the big boss, because you’re not,” she responded. Jeff Sonnenfeld, Professor at Yale School of Management said of her soft manners: “She wants to delegate authority for others to grow and allow them to make some mistakes that she knows she could have prevented. Indra doesn’t want to tell you, but she generally is the smartest person in the room.”

The 54-year-old Ramon Laguarta will succeed Ms. Nooyi as CEO. Ms. Nooyi will step down as CEO on October 3, but will remain Chairman until early 2019 to ensure a smooth and seamless transition, the company said.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 2:38:04 AM |

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