PepsiCo’s CEO calls it Quits after 12 Years at the Helm

Indra Nooyi, the top executive at PepsiCo announced at its global headquarters in Purchase, New York, that she is retiring at age 62, with chairman of the board duties extending into 2019. She served24 years with the company and 12 years as its CEO. The board of directors voted unanimously in favor of current president Ramon Laguarta, age 54, to assume her leadership position beginning October 3.

Nooyi has been on Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women List several times. She ranked11thin 2017. The company’s shares have risen to 78% since she assumed leadership in 2006.

Nooyi commented on Twitter about her humble upbringing in India and admitted that she “never imagined” she would be afforded the opportunity to spearhead a company such as PepsiCo. When asked about her feelings upon stepping down, she admitted she has “mixed emotions” about surrendering her role after so many exciting years with the company.

Prior to becoming CEO, Nooyi served as its chief financial officer, CFO. A company statement heralding Nooyi’s accomplishments during her tenure said:“She . . . delivered a strong and consistent financial performance, managing with an eye toward, not only the short-run, but the long-run as well.” The statement added that, “As CEO, she grew revenue more than 80%, outperforming [PepsiCo’s] peers and adding a new billion dollar brand almost every year.”

Needless to say, a significant portion of the population in India, especially business gurus and students of business, have been overjoyed with the success and accomplishments of Mrs Nooyi. Her individual success,to Indians poised to immigrate to the USA in search of success in business and technology, is not only that she is so accomplished, but that her very success is concrete evidence of the reality of the American dream. After all, she was born in Chennai (then Madras) and rose to unexpected heights in the global business market at a time when competition was at a peak.

Her remarkable achievements must be viewed against the backdrop that female babies are not favored in India and women in India are deemed to be second class citizens. It is therefore even more impressive to young women college graduates and females newly entering the workforce in India. Of course, there have been men of Indian descent who have also headed Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies, like Citibank’s Vikram Pandit; Microsoft’s Satya Nadella; and Google’s Sundar Pichai.

And while they, too, are worthy of high praises, it is understandable that Mrs. Nooyi praises carry more weight because she is a woman reared in a patriarchal culture, where women are often expected to delay or forgo their careers in favor of their husband’s.While there will undoubtedly be many more top-level positions claimed by Indians and Indian women in the near future, the position and business achievements of Indra Nooyi will remain as one of the pinnacles of achievement for Indians and women all over the world.