Indra Nooyi

Topics: Chief executive officer, Indra Nooyi, Management occupations Pages: 7 (2429 words) Published: June 14, 2015
It’s a simple story of a powerful woman. A story of an Indian girl who came from conservative Chennai to pursue higher studies in the US with little money and no safety net. If she failed, she failed. A story of this determined girl, who while studying in Connecticut, worked as a receptionist from midnight to sunrise to earn money and struggled to put together US$50 to buy herself a western suit for her first job interview out of Yale, where she had just completed her masters. Incidentally, she wasn’t comfortable trying out a formal western outfit and ended up buying trousers that reached down only till her ankles. Rejected at the interview, she turned to her professor at the school who asked her what she would wear if she were to be in India. To her reply that it would be a sari, the professor advised her to “be yourself” and stick to what she was comfortable with. She wore a sari for her next interview. She got the job and has followed this philosophy for the rest of her career. She’s been herself, never tried to change her basic beliefs, derived strength from her traditions and believed in who she is. As she says, “I’m so secure in myself, I don’t have to be American to play in the corporate life.” She worked hard and in time was counted as one of the most powerful women in the world by Forbes. In this edition of ‘My Story’ we present Indra Nooyi, President & Chief Financial Officer PepsiCo, Inc – a story that is both inspiring in its simplicity and grand in its achievement. It all began years ago in Chennai, where she studied hard in school to get her grades. She remembers how her mother would, after meal every day ask Indra and her sister what would they like to become when they grew up. They would come up with different ideas and their mother would reward the best idea each day. It forced Indra to think and dream for herself. It was this dream that led her to be a part of the 11th batch of IIM Kolkata. After two years of work with Johnson & Johnson and Mettur Beardsell in India, it was this fiery urge that took her to America in 1978, when she left India with barely any money to pursue a management degree from the prestigious Yale Graduate School of Management. Starting off with Boston Consulting Group in 1980, she knew it would be harder work for her than others for two reasons – one, she was a woman and two, she wasn’t an American but an outsider. She spent six years directing international corporate strategy projects at the Boston Consulting Group. Her clients ranged from textiles and consumer goods companies to retailers and specialty chemicals producers. Six years later, she joined Motorola in 1986 as the vice-president and director of corporate strategy & planning. She moved to Asea Brown Boveri in 1990 and spent four years as vice president (corporate strategy & planning). She was part of the top management team responsible for the company’s U.S. business as well as its worldwide industrial businesses, generating about one-third of ABB’s $30 billion in global sales. An interesting tale surrounds her joining PepsiCo in 1994. At that time she also had an offer from General Electric, one of the world’s best run companies under Jack Welch. The Pepsi CEO Wayne Callloway, in a bid to lure her, told her, “Jack Welch (GE’s legendary boss) is the best CEO I know, and GE is probably the finest company. But I have a need for someone like you, and I would make PepsiCo a special place for you.” Nooyi agreed. She broke the glass ceiling when she was appointed senior vice president, corporate strategy and development after joining PepsiCo in 1994 but she knew that getting there was one thing while staying there was another. As she says, “If you want to reach the top of a company, I agree that it can only happen in the United States, but you have to start off saying that you have got to work twice as hard as your (male) counterparts.” Not only did she work harder than her counterparts, she also made her way up the ladder to...
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