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Indra Nooyi to be Barack Obama adviser?

world Updated: Sep 23, 2010 01:08 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times
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Even as Lawrence Summers, Director of the White House’s National Economic Council, is set to leave his post later this year, Washington has been seized with speculation over his possible successor, with the Obama Administration reportedly focusing on appointing a woman and a corporate leader to the President’s top economic policy team. And one person who appears to meet those qualifications is Indian-American Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi.

While Nooyi is still seen as a dark horse candidate, in an interesting aside to mediapersons, after attending a panel discussion in New York, she said, “I want to go to Washington and figure out how to give back to the United States,” indicating that playing a political role was on the horizon.

However, Nooyi also made it clear that was not an immediate ambition, as she added, “The next phase of my career: I want to run PepsiCo, I want to make it a defining corporation of the 21st century, and that’s all I’m focused on.”

Summers’ planned exit after the November mid-term elections follows those of Christina Romer, who was Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers and Peter Orszag, former White House Budget Director.

The Obama Administration has been looking at appointing a corporate chief to a senior position within the Administration, partly to offset the image it has gained of being anti-business.

Nooyi had been part of Obama’s informal group of advisers when he was running for President of the United States in 2008.

Others included Summers, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker, Google chairman Eric Schmidt and University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee.

Former Xerox Corp CEO Anne Mulcahy is seen as a front runner for Summers' job. The other contenders include Laura Tyson, an economist, Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons and Alan Blinder from Princeton.

Nooyi currently is also on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. She was also the Chairperson of the US-India Business Council until earlier this year.