After 12 years leading one of the world’s most well-known food and beverage companies, Indra Nooyi will step down as chief executive of PepsiCo in October.
Nooyi has spent the past 24 years working at PepsiCo, including as a chief strategist and chief financial officer, before taking over the mantle as chief executive and president in October 2006.
Ramon Leguarta will succeed Nooyi as chief executive officer at the start of October, with Nooyi to continue to serve as chair of the PepsiCo board until early-2019.
The start of Nooyi’s tenure as chief executive coincided with the global financial crisis but over the next decade, she set about transforming PepsiCo into a consumer goods brand that is firmly grounded in the company’s “performance with purpose” philosophy, and with an eye on changing consumer preferences for healthier snacks.
At the same time, under her leadership, PepsiCo’s net revenue grew from $US 35 billion in 2006 to $US 63.5 billion in 2017, and shareholder returns increased by 162% over the same period.
“Today is a day of mixed emotions for me. This company has been my life for nearly a quarter century and part of my heart will always remain here”, she said in a statement on Monday.
Nooyi’s has consistently featured among the ranks of the most powerful women in the world, and she has regularly spoken about how her childhood growing up in Madras in India influenced her approach to business and leadership.
She’s also offered frank assessments of the challenges involved in raising a family while climbing the corporate ladder, and continues to push for greater diversity in business.
From designing the perfect product, to whether or not we can really ‘have it all’, here’s 11 insights from Nooyi.
On staying true to yourself
“I’m still a bit of a rebel, always saying that we cannot sit still. Every morning you’ve to wake up with a healthy fear that the world is changing, and a conviction that, to win, you have to change faster and be more agile than anyone else.” — Harvard Business Review
On visualising success
“Every night at the dinner table, my mother would ask us to write a speech about what we do if we were president, chief minister or prime minister — every day would be a different world leader she’d ask us to play. At the end of dinner, we had to give the speech, and she had to decide who she was going to vote for. — Business Insider
On why companies need to continually reinvent themselves
“It’s been a long time since you could talk about sustainable competitive advantage. The cycles are shortened. The rule used to be that you’d reinvent yourself once every seven to 10 years. Not it’s every two to three years. There’s constant reinvention: how you do business, how you deal with the customer.” — Harvard Business Review
On having ‘purpose’ in business
“Purpose doesn’t hurt margins. Purpose is how you drive transformation. If you don’t transform the portfolio, you’re going to stop top-line growth, and margins will decline anyway. So we don’t really invest in ‘purpose’, but in a strategy to keep the company successful in the future.” — Harvard Business Review
On diversity and talent
It’s our job to draw the best out of everyone. That means employees must be able to immerse their whole selves in a work environment in which they can develop their careers, families and philanthropy, and truly believe they are cared for.” — Enactus Career Connections
On what makes a good product
“For me, a well-designed product is one you fall in love with. Or you hate. It may be polarising, but it has to provoke a real reaction. Ideally, it’s a product you want to engage with in the future, rather than just, ‘Yeah, I bought it, and I ate it”. — Harvard Business Review
On becoming a chief executive
“The biggest surprise in becoming CEO was that when you ascend to the number one job, you are ‘it’, as they say. When you’re president of the company, or CFO, you still have a very important job. But there’s always a CEO out there who was on the frontline, who was being focused on. And when you become CEO overnight you are the person calling all the shots, you’re responsible for making sure you get all the information from the company, crystallise it down to, simple ideas, and then tell the organisation what to do.” — Freakonomics
On being a female business leader
“I’d say that when you become a CEO and you’re a woman, you are looked at differently. What you say people do – they say things like, ‘Well a guy CEO wouldn’t have said that. Or a guy would have said it differently’. You are held to a different standard, there’s no question about it. — Freakonomics
On whether women can ‘have it all’
“I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all. My husband and I have been married for 34 years, and we have two daughters. And every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we can be decent parents. But if you ask our daughters, I’m not sure they will say that I’ve been a good mom. I’m not sure. And I try all kinds of coping mechanisms. — The Atlantic
On hiring more women
“Whether you are a male CEO or a female CEO, it is a business imperative. Because if you look at graduating seniors from colleages, more than 50% are women. More than 50%!
“And if you look at the best grades, they are being gotten by women. So if you really want companies to be successful, we have got to draw from the entire pool, not just try to say: ‘Hey, we are going to exclude a portion of the population’.” — CNBC
On managing her time
“I make a list every day of 50, 60 items, and I tick off what I’ve done — tiny things. If I’m carrying two to three items over to the next day, it feels great. People say multitasking isn’t very good. If I didn’t multitask, I have no idea how I’d survive.” — Fortune
This is an edited version of a piece that first appeared on Smart Company.