Spotlight on Indra Nooyi

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Indra Nooyi, current CEO of PepsiCo for almost a decade, is a prominent businesswoman who has achieved great success through hard work and dedication. Having grown up in and attending college and business school in India, she came to America in 1978 to attend school at Yale. After joining PepsiCo in 1994, she has been there ever since as she has worked her way up the ranks towards the top, becoming CFO in 2001, and eventually CEO in 2006. She has become one of the most successful businesswomen across the world. Since 2001, Pepsi’s annual revenues have risen 72%, with net profit more than doubling. Her confidence and composure both in and out of the workplace is a reminder of how much of a difference women can make in a business world that only a few decades ago was particularly dominated by men.

When asked about what it means to be a woman leader, Nooyi responded, “While being a woman influences my approach to leadership – just as being a parent, an immigrant and a sports fan affects how I view the world – it is not what defines my approach to leadership. But I do believe that being a woman has helped me develop a unique, adaptive approach to leadership that is critical in today’s world of rapid change.” For her, she goes on to say, her unique approach to leadership involves leading with open eyes, open ears, an open mind, and an open heart. In this day and age, it is essential for companies to adapt to a changing world and come up with new, innovative ways to make progress. To Nooyi, women in business are an essential part of any successful company, helping bring in unique ideas and adaptive approaches that benefit the company in a number of ways. On women in business , she said “Women in leadership makes good business sense. Results of the surveys show that companies having more women in their boards and as leaders achieve superior performance both in financial terms and in other aspects.”

She has fostered an era of social change by trying to help other women, and other minorities, rise up the ladder. She has created the Women’s Inspiration Network, an online community backed by Nooyi to support gender equality and where women can learn from each other.

Additionally, one of Nooyi’s goals is to have a workforce that closely reflects the demographics of the consumer in order to better understand them and satisfy their needs. Currently, Pepsi has 33% of their board members as women in the US, so Nooyi stresses there is a continual push for continually raising that number to be more equal.

In recent weeks, there have been talks of a potential merger between PepsiCo and snack-food giant Mendelez. This is exciting because the CEO of Mendelez, Irene Rosenfeld, is also a woman and they have crossed paths in the past briefly. The merger could potentially be very beneficial for the two companies, but also would make for a great headline in the continual push for having more women in business.

 
Perrin Judd
Tufts University
 
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