Indra Nooyi - A Design Thinker

Indra Nooyi - A Design Thinker

Indra Nooyi (born October 28, 1955, Chennai, India) is an Indian American business executive known for holding CEO position for 12 years at PepsiCo. Currently, she is serving in the International Cricket Council and also as the board of directors of Amazon, the largest e-commerce business website. She's consistently featured in Forbes list of top 100 most powerful women on earth. She was ranked 2 on this list in 2015. In 2007, she won Padma Bhushan which is also the third-highest civilian award in the Republic of India. In 2017, she was ranked the 2nd most powerful woman once more on the Forbes list of The 19 Most Powerful Women in Business. Indra Nooyi had approximately 144 million dollars of net worth as the CEO of PepsiCo. 

Under Nooyi, the company now groups its products into three categories: “Fun for You,” “Better for You,” and “Good for You.” “Good for You” products include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and so on, with an emphasis on less sugar and fat; this category includes brands like Tropicana, Quaker, and Aquafina, which is water. “Better for You” includes lower-calorie sodas and baked potato chips. And “Fun for You” – well, those are the brands you’re probably most familiar with: Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Lays, and Cheetos. In her leadership, PepsiCo's net profit rose from 2.7 billion dollars to 6.5 billion dollars. She have mirrored herself to shows the impact great leaders truly have – things like creating a vision, having courage of your convictions, and unleashing the power of your people.

What’s so special about Indra’s journey?  

Nooyi is someone who managed to rise to the top despite all social, cultural and gender challenges.

Describing herself as an ordinary girl ,she still retains so much of her Indianness and dons sari with bindi in most of the office ceremonies. She believes the corporate world appreciates people who are genuine. She views PepsiCo as an extended family. Being a woman, immigrant and of different race made it thrice difficult for Nooyi to reach to this position but the only mantra which she followed was working twice hard as the male counterpart.

She always say don’t wait for a turning point. She think it’s been a set of gradual moves. Even the day before they told her  that she was going to be C.E.O., she didn’t think that she was going to be C.E.O. So, there wasn’t a plan to become C.E.O. The plan was to just keep doing a very, very good job, and making sure the company was in a good place. She firmly think one thing just led to another.

Believes in Showing Team

Indra attributes a lot of Pepsi’s success to its great employees. “People are everything,” Indra Nooyi has been known to say. “The success of an enterprise usually comes down to one thing: the team.” From simple practices to company wide initiatives, Nooyi’s leadership reveals a fundamental focus on leading with people in mind. For instance, she annually sends out hundreds of handwritten “brag” notes to both employees and employees’ parents, thanking employees for their service and employees’ parents for the gift of their children.This idea came when her own parents received accolades after Nooyi became CEO of Pepsi.

The Iron woman of PepsiCo motto is, “Brands go through ups and downs. I think every five or seven years, you've got to change out the approach to the brand, because you need a new boost of energy to think about the next iteration. Too many brands, when they are successful, just become arrogant and get trapped in their very self confidence.

She 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. She also says CEOs should never stop learning. You cannot afford to stop learning. Despite being a CEO, Nooyi likes to learn things that don’t fall in her expertise. She likes to talk to customers, field salespeople and all her employees and absorb information from a diverse group of sources.

She has set an example for many of the young minds and she continues to inspire through her speeches and interview. By learning from prime examples like Nooyi, we can also bring humanity to the foreground, conduct business for a larger purpose, and be so good we can’t be ignored. We, too, can become a stronger for our companies while becoming role models for others.


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