Pepsico’s Indian-origin CEO Indra Nooyi, who will step down Wednesday after 12 years at the helm of the global beverage giant, said that “lot of fuel” is still left in her “tank” and she looks forward to doing something different with her life and spend more time with her family.
Chennai-born Nooyi not only broke the glass ceiling in corporate America when she was named CEO of the global beverage giant in 2006 but, through her journey, inspired millions of young Indians who dreamed of and aspired to emulate the success the India-born woman achieved in America.
In her concluding remarks during PepsiCo’s Third Quarter 2018 Earnings Conference Call on Tuesday, Nooyi said, “You know 12 years is a long time as a CEO, and even though I have a lot of fuel still left in my tank. I wanted to do something different with my life. Spend more time with my family and give the next generation in PepsiCo a chance to lead this great company.”
Nooyi said she has been blessed to have had the opportunity to lead PepsiCo and “work with such incredible people including our outstanding board, executives and other associates, our customers and other partners, our shareholders and all our other stakeholders.”
Nooyi will step down after 24 years with the company, the last 12 as CEO. She will remain Chairman until early 2019 to ensure a smooth and seamless transition.
PepsiCo’s Board of Directors had in August announced that they unanimously elected Ramon Laguarta, 54, to succeed Nooyi, 62, as Chief Executive Officer. Laguarta was also elected to the company’s Board of Directors, effective October 3.
One of the most powerful and influential business leaders in the world, Nooyi was regularly featured on power lists compiled by Forbes and Fortune magazines. She was also among the few female executives to lead global corporate giants. Just under five per cent of Fortune 500 companies currently have a female CEO. Apart from being a prominent face of women leadership across the world, she was also the epitome of success for the millions of young Indians who aspired to be like her as they watched her journey through the ranks of PepsiCo and eventually leading the global conglomerate.
She was among the first of a handful of India-born executives to helm global corporates. Nooyi was appointed as CEO in 2006, becoming PepsiCo’s fifth chief executive in its 41-year history, and the first woman.
Nooyi, a mother of two daughters, was also very vocal about the challenges women faced in trying to find a balance in managing their home and work. She had famously said at an Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado in 2014 that women “cannot have it all.”
In a parting letter she wrote before stepping down as CEO, Nooyi shared some reflections on what she has learnt during her tenure and the lessons that have guided her throughout my career.
“Think hard about time,” she said. “We have so little of it on this earth. Make the most of your days, and make space for the loved ones who matter most. Take it from me. I’ve been blessed with an amazing career, but if I’m being honest, there have been moments I wish I’d spent more time with my children and family. So, I encourage you: be mindful of your choices on the road ahead,” she said.
Nooyi wrote in the letter that serving as PepsiCo’s CEO has been the honour of a lifetime.
“Now it’s on to the next adventure—for us all. Thinking about my life beyond PepsiCo, I’m reminded of the words of the great Sufi mystic Rumi,” she said. Quoting Rumi, she said,“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul, there is no such thing as separation.”
In the conference call, Nooyi said throughout her tenure, PepsiCo has strived to achieve a difficult balance between attending to short term pressures while managing for the long-term.
She noted that PepsiCo has made positive contributions to communities around the globe in which it operates through its support of access to clean drinking water, human rights, nutrition, agricultural programmes and many more initiatives.
She said in the midst of managing the business for the long-term, PepsiCo also delivered strong and consistent financial performance specifically during the period 2006 to 2017.
Net revenue grew more than 80 per cent and the company added a new billion dollar brand almost every other year. “We return USD 79 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. Our market capitalisation increased by USD 68 billion. Dividends per share nearly tripled from USD 1.16 to USD 3.17, and we generated total shareholder return of 162 per cent,” she said.
The quarterly earnings report on Nooyi’s final day on the job beat analyst estimates. Revenue rose 1.5 per cent to USD 16.5 billion while earnings totalled USD 1.59 a share, both figures beating analyst estimates.
Nooyi described her successor Laguarta as a terrific executive with a long and proven track record of growing businesses. She said he has a “deep understanding of the changing preferences of consumers and other critical trends unfolding around the world, and he has demonstrated that he knows how to navigate them successfully.”
She expressed confidence he will lead PepsiCo to “new and greater heights in the years to come.