by Elton Gomes
“PepsiCo has been my life for 24 years & part of my heart will always remain here,” Nooyi said in a tweet.
Today is a day of mixed emotions for me. @PepsiCo has been my life for 24 years & part of my heart will always remain here. I’m proud of what we’ve done & excited for the future. I believe PepsiCo’s best days are yet to come. https://t.co/sSNfPgVK6W pic.twitter.com/170vIBHY5R
— Indra Nooyi (@IndraNooyi) August 6, 2018
“Growing up in India, I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to lead such an extraordinary company,” Nooyi said in a statement. “PepsiCo today is in a strong position for continued growth with its brightest days still ahead,” CNBC reported. Nooyi has faced some hard times during her tenure. While she was CEO, PepsiCo faced challenges from brands that continue to threaten its market share, including drinks like Gatorade.
Under her 12-year tenure, Nooyi has managed to boost sales of to $63.5 billion, which is an increase of 80 percent from when she started. In the same period, Pepsi’s share price also increased 78 percent. Nooyi has been largely credited with reshaping Pepsi by introducing tactical mergers and shifting to healthier drinks instead of sugary sodas.
Recently, Nooyi’s efforts were directed towards reviving sales of Pepsi’s marquee sodas by stepping up marketing efforts in an attempt to win market share from Coca Cola.
“She has delivered strong and consistent financial performance, managing with an eye toward not only the short-run, but the long-run as well,” Ian Cook, presiding director of PepsiCo’s Board of Directors, said, as reported by the Hindu. Cook added that after Nooyi took charge in 2006, shareholders have benefited: ” … shareholders have benefited: $1,000 invested in PepsiCo in 2006 is worth more than two-and-a-half times that amount today.”
Nooyi grew up in Chennai where she completed her studies at Madras Christian College. She then enrolled at the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, before arriving in the US in 1980 for a second master’s degree from Yale School of Management. Nooyi has been a known advocate of partnerships between India and the US. She was a member of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) and had previously served as chair of the US-India Business Council.
Being the CEO of PepsiCo, Nooyi oversaw the functioning of 260,000 global employees under the brand that also housed Frito-Lay chips, Tropicana juices, Gatorade, Quaker foods, and several soft drink brands including Pepsi. A significant part of Nooyi’s efforts has been in revamping Pepsi’s image at a time when customers were increasingly wary about sugary drinks. Under her, PepsiCo redirected its focus towards products that included fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and gave little emphasis to sugar and fat.
Due to Nooyi’s unrelenting efforts, PepsiCo now offers customers baked chips and water brands like Lifewtr and Bubly. As of May 2018, Pepsi acquired Bare Foods, a company that makes baked fruit and vegetable snacks. Although Nooyi strove to bring about change, she often clashed with activists and investors who were of the opinion that her ideas were wrong. Today, half of Pepsi’s revenues come from healthy drinks and snack products, which is a 38 percent increase from 2006.
In becoming Pepsi’s CEO in 2006, Nooyi was the first female chief in the company’s history. As years passed, Nooyi’s job earned her titles such as “America’s second most powerful businesswoman,” and her name was a constant among top American female CEOs.
Nooyi has not yet announced her future plans. Regardless of whatever she chooses to do, her business acumen and resistance will definitely be remembered. As part of her exit statement, Nooyi said, “Being a CEO requires strong legs and I feel like I ran two legs of a relay race and I want somebody else with nice strong legs and sharp eyes to come and lead this company,” as reported by Quartz.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.