From Chennai to the top of corporate America, Indra Nooyi has come a long way. The woman who has brought in $30billion worth of deals to PepsiCo in the past few years hasn’t earned the sobriquet Iron Woman for nothing.
Nooyi has played key roles in the Tricon spin-off, the purchase of Tropicana, the public offering of Pepsi Cola bottling group and the merger with Quaker Foods. Ranked fourth on Fortune Magazine's list of '50 Most Powerful Women in Business' in 2005, she even prodded the company to venture into the fast-food business.
No wonder, then, that her appointment as chief executive officer was met with kudos. "We are exceedingly fortunate to have a leader of her calibre, vision and experience to take the helm," the Pepsico Board said in a statement. Steve Reinemund, the man she replaces on October 1, 2006, credits her for "transforming PepsiCo". "She has been an invaluable partner and ally throughout my time as CEO, " he said on Monday.
On a conference call with in vestors, Nooyi - who lives with her husband Raj and two daughters in Greenwich, Connecticut- said she was "very excited and very humbled by her new appointment."
She gave full credit to her colleagues, especially Reinemund and Michael D. White, PepsiCo Vice Chairman and Chairman & CEO of PepsiCo International. She described her relationship with them as one where "they complete each other's sentences."
After her graduation, Nooyi studied at IIM, Calcutta and then got a Master's Degree in Public and Private management from the Yale School of Management. She joined Boston Consulting Group in 1980 and then joined Motorola as vicepresident of corporate planning and strategy in 1986. Four years later in 1990, she joined Asian Brown Boveri as vice president. She joined PepsiCo in 1994 as Senior vice-president and CFO. She stands tall as an example for people who imagine they belong to disadvantaged groups.
Nothing unusual for a superwoman perhaps. But it remains to be seen what she can do for her company in India, where pesticides have returned to haunt Pepsi.