In a time where Indian girls were taught only enough to get them married, Indra Nooyi was breaking all the barriers and preparing to conquer the world. Nooyi started her career with a bachelor’s degree in Science and went on to become the first female CEO of one of the world’s largest corporations, Pepsico. She paved the way for many Indian women in the business and corporate world. Let’s read more about Indira Nooyi and her incredible success story!
About Indra Nooyi
Indra Nooyi (pre-marriage: Indra Krishnamurthy) was born on October 28, 1955, in the Tamil Nadu city of Madras or Chennai. She is a well-known Indian-American businesswoman who served as the former chairperson (2007- 19) and the chief executive officer or CEO (2006- 18) of the multinational corporation PepsiCo.
Nooyi attended Holy Angels Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School in Chennai, India, which is an all-girls Roman Catholic private convent school. In 1974, she graduated from Madras Christian College of the University of Madras with bachelor’s degrees in physics, chemistry, and mathematics.
She didn’t stop there; she went on to complete her postgraduate studies, earning a Post Graduate Program Diploma from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta in 1976, the place of worship for every management student. Well, that was not the full stop of her educational qualification yet. She chose to relocate to the United States in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of life in general and to pursue endless opportunities for her personal development.
In 1980, she earned a master’s degree in public and private management from one of the best ranking universities in the US, the Yale School of Management, after relocating to the United States.
Fun Fact: Indra Nooyi is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Foundation Board, the International Rescue Committee’s Board of Directors, Catalyst, and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Board of Directors.
The Amazing Career of Indra Nooyi
Indra Nooyi began working at a young age and was a firm believer in acquiring as much knowledge as possible and seizing the opportunity that life presents. Indra Nooyi began her career in India as a product manager for Johnson & Johnson and Mettur Beardsell which is a textile company. She even completed a summer internship with Booz Allen Hamilton while attending Yale School of Management in the US. After 1980, Nooyi served as a strategy consultant for the Boston Consulting Group for the next six years. She later worked for Motorola Inc. as Vice President and Director of Corporate Strategy and Planning. She later went on to work for the engineering firm Asea Brown Boveri (now ABB).
Fun Fact: Back in India, Indra Nooyi always has loved to play cricket and was also in an all-girl rock band as a guitarist.
PepsiCo and Beyond!
Indra Nooyi became senior vice president of corporate strategy and growth at PepsiCo in 1994. She became the company’s president and chief financial officer (CFO) in 2001. In October 2006, her hard work, vision, strategic alignment, and business experience won her the title of CEO, and the following year, she also became chairman of the board. She was PepsiCo’s fifth chairman and CEO in the company’s 42-year existence.
Having said that, Nooyi was the first woman to lead the soft-drink and snack-food conglomerate and one of only 11 female CEOs in the Fortune 500. Many notable figures, editors, company stakeholders, and strategists from around the world lauded and admired her abilities, as well as the new outlook and vision she brought to PepsiCo. PepsiCo’s policy of being a well-balanced consumer-products company with less reliance on sales of its flagship soft drinks was continued by Nooyi. She also sought foreign expansion with vigour.
PepsiCo’s revenue had increased from $35 billion in 2006 to nearly $63.5 billion in 2017 and the annual net profit rose from $2.7 billion to $6.5 billion under her tenure. This was all possible because of her sustained and consistent leadership.
For more than a decade, Nooyi has led PepsiCo’s global strategy and transformation, including the 1997 divestiture of Tricon, now known as Yum! Brands, which included Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell under its umbrella. She also led the acquisition of Tropicana in 1998 and the merger with Quaker Oats Company in 2001 along with Gatorade, allowing PepsiCo to gain a competitive advantage.
On August 6, 2018, Nooyi stepped down as CEO, and on October 3. Ramon Laguarta, a 22-year PepsiCo veteran who also joined the board of directors, took her place. Nooyi, on the other hand, remained the company’s chairman until early 2019. She is also a member of the Amazon and the International Cricket Council boards of directors at present.
Fun Fact: Do you know that Indra Nooyi’s elder sister is also a businesswoman and a Grammy-nominated artist, Chandrika Krishnamurthy Tandon.
Achievements and Recognition
There is no question that Indra Nooyi is a living influencer and an inspiring figure who has consistently elevated India and its prestige.
- She has regularly been ranked in the top 100 most influential women in the world.
- She was ranked 13th on Forbes’ list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2014.
- In 2009 and 2010, Fortune named her the most powerful woman in business.
- She was named the second most powerful woman on the list twice, in 2015 and 2017.
- She was named in the Wall Street Journal’s list of 50 Women to Watch in 2007 and 2008, as well as on Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
- Nooyi was also named one of NDTV’s “25 Greatest Global Living Legends” in 2013.
- The former President of India, late Mr Abdul Kalam had honoured her with the prestigious award of Padma Bhushan at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2007.
- CEOWORLD magazine called Nooyi one of the “Best CEOs In The World” in 2018.
- Indra Nooyi was appointed co-director of the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, a public-private collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, in 2019.
- The League of Women Voters of Connecticut awarded Nooyi with the Outstanding Woman in Business award in February 2020.
Fun Fact: Indra Nooyi has also been awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Human Letters by Yale University in 2019, along with several other honorary degrees from prestigious and renowned universities like the North Carolina State University, University of Warwick, Pennsylvania State University, Cranfield University and many more.
Indeed she is the powerful boss lady that has rightfully proved to the world that Indian women are no less than others and can even lead a company as big as PepsiCo if she has that determination and good presence of mind and knowledge. With her consistent contribution and work, she has not only made India proud but also has made the US proud. For more amazing and inspiring reads, stay connected with Leverage Edu.