Indra Nooyi (born 28 October 1955) is an Indian American business executive and former CEO of PepsiCo.
She has consistently ranked among the world’s 100 most powerful women. In 2014, she was ranked at number 13 on the Forbes list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, and was ranked the 2nd most powerful woman on the Fortune list in 2015.
She serves on the board of Amazon, the International Cricket Council, and Schlumberger.
Beginning her career in India, Nooyi held product manager positions at Johnson & Johnson and textile firm Mettur Beardsell. While attending Yale School of Management, Nooyi completed her summer internship with Booz Allen Hamilton. In 1980, Nooyi joined the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as a strategy consultant, and then worked at Motorola as Vice President and Director of Corporate Strategy and Planning,followed by a stint at Asea Brown Boveri.
PepsiCo Executive Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994, and was named CEO in 2006, replacing Steven Reinemund, becoming the fifth CEO in PepsiCo’s 44-year history. Nooyi has directed the company’s global strategy for more than a decade and led PepsiCo’s restructuring, including the 1997 divestiture of Tricon, now known as Yum! Brands. Tricon included companies like Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell under its umbrella . The financial gains from this spinoff allowed the company to increase the pace of its share buyback strategy, thereby giving it more leverage to pursue future acquisitions without as much shareholder backlash. Nooyi also took the lead in the acquisition of Tropicana in 1998, and the merger with Quaker Oats Company, which also brought Gatorade in 2001. The $3.3 billion acquisition of Tropicana initially faced opposition from other PepsiCo executives and Wall Street critics. Acquiring Tropicana allowed PepsiCo to gain a competitive edge; Tropicana at the time captured 44% of the chilled orange juice segment, the fastest growing segment of the juice market, an especially positive metric when compared to Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid which captured less than half of Tropicana’s market share. The Quaker Oats Company’s ownership of Gatorade was a positive strategic move for PepsiCo, since Gatorade was responsible for 80% of sports drink sales at the time. Similar to the Tropicana acquisition, this strategic move gave PepsiCo leverage against Coca-Cola, owner of Powerade – second in the sports drink segment. PepsiCo’s annual net profit rose from $2.7 billion to $6.5 billion.
Nooyi was named on Wall Street Journal’s list of 50 women to watch in 2007 and 2008, and was listed among Time’s 100 Most Influential People in The World in 2007 and 2008. Forbes named her the #3 most powerful woman in 2008. In 2014, she was ranked #13 by Forbes. Fortune ranked her the #1 most powerful woman in business in 2009 and 2010. On 7 October 2010, Fortune magazine ranked her the 6th most powerful woman in the world. In Fortune’s Most Powerful Women List of 15 September 2015, Nooyi ranked 2nd.
Nooyi’s strategic redirection of PepsiCo has been largely successful. She reclassified PepsiCo’s products into three categories: “fun for you” (such as potato chips and regular soda), “better for you” (diet or low-fat versions of snacks and sodas), and “good for you” (items such as oatmeal). Her initiative was backed up with ample funding. She moved corporate spending away from junk foods and into the healthier alternatives, with the aim of improving the healthiness of even the “fun” offerings. In 2015, Nooyi removed aspartame from Diet Pepsi, furthering the shift towards healthier foods, despite lack of evidence of aspartame’s harmful effects.
Nooyi has stated an intent to develop a line of snacks marketed specifically for women, feeling that it is a hitherto unexplored category. In a radio interview, Nooyi stated that PepsiCo is getting ready to launch products designed and packaged according to women’s preferences, and based on behavioral differences in the way men and women consume snacks.
On 6 August 2018, PepsiCo Inc confirmed that Nooyi would step down as the CEO and Ramon Laguarta, a 22-year veteran of PepsiCo, would replace her on 3 October. Ramon Laguarta replaced her on that day, as well as becoming a member of the board of directors. However, Nooyi continued to serve as the chairwoman of the company until early 2019. During her tenure, the company’s sales grew 80%. Nooyi served as CEO for 12 years, 7 years longer than the average CEO tenure at large companies according to an Equilar study.
Connecticut public service
In 2019, Nooyi became the co-director of the newly created Connecticut Economic Resource Center, a public-private partnership with the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. She will help draft the states new economic development strategy. Nooyi is a resident of Connecticut and a college classmate of Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.
Memberships and associations
Nooyi is a Successor Fellow of the Yale Corporation. She serves as a member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, International Rescue Committee, Catalyst and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Eisenhower Fellowships, and has served as Chairperson of the U.S.-India Business Council.
Nooyi serves as an Honorary Co-Chair for the World Justice Project. The World Justice Project works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the Rule of Law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.
In December 2016, Nooyi joined a business forum assembled by Donald Trump to provide strategic and policy advice on economic issues.