How did Indra Nooyi land with PepsiCo’s offer?
Lets take a look at her life events and how Indra Nooyi caught the eye of PepsiCo’s CEO Wayne Calloway.
Her reputation precedes and she does not need any formal introduction. Indra Nooyi as we all know, rose to fame as the CEO of PepsiCo. She has been on the list of 100 most influential women globally and notably, Forbes placed Indra Nooyi at 13th place in the list of 100 most powerful women in the year 2014 and she was placed world 2 in the same list in both 2015 and 2017. She finally retired from PepsiCo in 2017 with $ 31 million in her kitty. And recently she launched a book titled “My life in Full: Work, Family, and Future.”
Let’s look at how she and PepsiCo made way for each other with exciting and crisp real-life events.
Young Indra was a rule breaker
Little Indra Krishnamurthy landed on this planet on the 28th of October 1955; in Chennai city, India, to proud parents Krishnamurthy (Father) and Shantha Krishnamurthy (Mother). Though she was from a highly conservative, middle-class Tamil brahmin-speaking society Indra was a born rule-breaker.
She played cricket in an era where women were just not encouraged to take up sports dominated by boys. That’s not all she also did, whilst studying at Christian College, Madras (now Chennai) join an all-girls rock band and played guitar.
She is a notable alma mater of IIM Calcutt, back in the day India only had 2 options for an MBA and IIM Calcutta was one of them.
Indra Nooyi’s first paycheck
Guess with which company did Indra Nooyi grab her first paycheck? It was a British textile company called Tootal which had Indian operations.
Later the popular personal care product maker Johnson & Johnson hired Indra Nooyi as their brand manager to be stationed in Bombay (now Mumbai) and her first account was “StayFree”. In an era where Indian women preferred using old rags for their menstruating week every month, Indra had to convince and persuade women in choosing the sanitary napkin. Indra recalls, “Personal protection back then in India could not be openly marketed and I found it very exciting and challenging at the same time to present this product to my target customers and ensure I meet the target sales month on month. I learned a lot and it was quite a challenge.”
Indra further recalls while being interviewed by Sarah Murray from Financial Times, “I felt I was not ready for the big shark of the business world. I then realized a need for a foreign degree and applied at Yale University’s Graduate School of Management and was given a place. this was in 1978, I was quite surprised my parents agreed to let me move to the United States of America for my studies. it was quite outlandish and my marriage prospects died as I came from a conservative south-Indian Tamil brahmin family and my parents gave me wings to fly abroad!.”
Indra worked as a receptionist!
Apparently, young Indra Nooyi could not afford a suit. She flew to the US and started her student life at Yale University, and Yale did provide Indra with financial aid however, it was not enough for her ends to meet. Then she started working as a receptionist post-college hours to make extra bucks. Indra Nooyi as a business management student was expected to wear a suit and official wear as she was low on funds she wore a sari throughout her summer internship and the Americans saw a young and aspiring Indian who cared less for her clothes and more for her professional front.
Indra Nooyi’s International Career begins
Amidst the PepsiCo and Coca Cola war, Indra Nooyi was pursuing her second master’s degree from Yale and she took up Public and Private Management. She successfully completed her degree in 1980.
Now things get interesting as to how PepsiCo landed on her table.
Indra Nooyi gave 6 years of her time to Boston Consulting Group and later in 1986 Indra Nooyi moved to Motorola as a senior management executive. Come 1990, Indra Nooyi joined a Swiss-Swedish company called Asea Brown Boveri Inc. as their Head of Strategy. Now ABB was an industrial entity with an evaluation of $6 billion at the time and was building power plants globally.
Indra’s razor-sharp mind and skills in taking ABB to the next level met the curiosity of the Head of General Electric, Jack Welch. In her interview with Financial Times, Indra chuckled, “Jack Welch was the best CEO I knew at the time!”
Apparently, Jack was not the only one who found Indra Nooyi a great asset but also Wayne Calloway PepsiCo’s then CEO himself! Both approached her with an offer she could not deny. However, Wayne Calloway said something to Indra Nooyi, that made Indra choose PepsiCo. Indra recalls during her interview with Financial Times, “Both jack and Wayne knew each other very well. It was Wayne who spoke differently to me. He said that PepsiCo wanted someone like me and PepsiCo will ensure that it had a special place for me. That’s it, I took up PepsiCo…”
Life at PepsiCo begins
Indra Nooyi began working with PepsiCo in 1994 and replaced her bestie at work, Steven Reinemund as a CEO In 2006.
Ambitious Indra started putting her heart and soul into steering PepsiCo, she changed the brand identity and various assets were repositioned into different verticals. She diverted PepsiCo’s restaurant brands like KFC, PizzaHut, and Taco Bell into a separate entity. Indra closely followed its rival Coca-Cola’s moves and in 1999 PepsiCo went Public with its evaluation at $2.3 billion.
Indra Nooyi sailed PepsiCo in the right direction
Indra Nooyi was instrumental in the 2 most critical and crucial acquisitions at PepsiCo. She orchestrated the acquisition of the Tropicana juice beverage brand in 1998 at $ 3.3 billion and later in 2000 she was part of the team that acquired Quaker Oats for $ 14 billion.
These two decisions became the most talked-about food deals in the history of corporate America. One more striking deal Indra Nooyi peddled for PepsiCo was the acquisition of a nail-biting deal with the beverage maker SoBe at a whopping $ 337 million and Coca-Cola apparently lost this deal to Indra Nooyi.
Year of Indra Nooyi at PepsiCo
One after the other Indra Nooyi gave PepsiCo its true north based on her staggering performance in the year 2000, PepsiCo promoted Indra Nooyi as their new CEO, and the rest as we all know is history.