As the world celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality, here are some of the inspiring messages from a leading and renowned woman leader.
It all began years ago in Chennai, where she studied hard in school to get her grades. She remembers how her mother after meal used to ask every day 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.
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 Calloway, 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.
For Indra, a well-designed product is one you fall in love with. Or you hate. It may be polarizing, but it has to provoke a real reaction. Ideally, it’s a product you want to engage with in the future, rather than just saying “Yeah, I bought it, and I ate it.”
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 colleagues, she also made her way up the ladder to become President and CFO of PepsiCo, and was also appointed as a member of board of directors of PepsiCo Inc – which she assumed in 2001.
Nooyi was 44 when she joined PepsiCo. Ever since, she has been involved in every major strategic decision the company has made in the last few years.
Believes that a company remains great when there is a strong competitor, like Coke. She believes if you have no competition, a company will atrophy.
At PepsiCo Indra has ensured that employees actually balance life and work. She views PepsiCo as an extension of family and everybody at the company is there to help in every way possible.
Despite the successes of her career, Indra Nooyi remains a core Indian woman who has combined energy of her job with the calm, collected self which is required to manage the equally important responsibility of a mother and a wife. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Fairfax county, Connecticut.
ISBM University salutes Mrs. Indra Nooyi who has inspired and transformed our lives as well as made women proud and ambitious with her achievements involving determination, hard work and dedication.