Running a company is no easy task. Imagine being in charge of a massive global corporation, then, doing it for over a decade. Anyone who has led a company has wisdom to share, especially Indra Nooyi, who is stepping down from her position as the CEO of PepsiCo. Whether you are a CEO of a large company, a small business owner, or a student, Nooyi has experiences that will help you grow personally and professionally.
After spending 12 years at the helm of PepsiCo, CEO Indra Nooyi is planning to step down. She will not leave PepsiCo, but will serve as chairman of the board through early 2019. At age 62, she has outlasted most of her contemporary CEOs, who stay on in the position for an average of five years. Nooyi broke two major barriers with this position: she was the first woman and immigrant to led PepsiCo. On top of those two barriers, no woman had ever been CEO of a company as large as PepsiCo until Nooyi did it.
During her 12 years as the CEO, she made changes at PepsiCo that kept the company profitable. As customers moved away from sugary sodas and salty snacks, Nooyi oversaw the purchase of Quaker Foods. This purchase added a healthier collection of products to PepsiCo’s lineup. She also worked hard to keep the company together after one of the investors decided that that he wanted to divide the company into two, with a Frito-Lay division and a soda division.
The importance of education
With all that she has experienced, she has plenty of wisdom to share. One of the secrets of her success is that she studied STEM courses in school. She told Freakonomics Radio that students who study sciences early in their schooling are better prepared to learn other subjects as they get older. She said: “And your scientific disciplines play a very important role, and grounds you very well as you move into positions of higher and higher authority, whatever the job is.”
It is clear that education is important to Nooyi. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Physics, Chemistry, and Math from the Madras Christian College in India. She earned her first MBA from Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta. She earned a second master’s degree in Public and Private Management from Yale School of Management. It is clear from her experience that education is a key to success.
The importance of women supporting women
As one of the most powerful businesswomen in the world, Nooyi has plenty of wisdom for women in the business world. Interestingly, she was an avid fan of the television show “Sex in the City.” And, from it, she learned an important lesson that she wants other women to understand. The sisterhood of the four friends on the television show struck Nooyi as an incredibly important thing for women. She told Yahoo News: “The sisterhood of women. Let’s put ourselves in charge. That sisterhood needs to form. And when we get there, I think there’s no stopping us.” She wants women to learn that it is important for them to stick together to get things done.
The importance of challenging her employees
With her thorough education in STEM subjects and in management, she understood how to encourage and challenge her employees. She told Freakonomics Radio that she would create challenges for the R&D department to use their STEM backgrounds to better their products. Because she appreciated their knowledge and gave them opportunities to use it, they rose to the challenges and created better products for their consumers. With the PepsiCo team, Nooyi can claim the achievement of raising the revenue 80 percent and added recognizable brands on a near-annual basis.
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With 12 years at the helm of PepsiCo, Nooyi was regularly at or near the top of annual best-of lists. It is difficult to get on those lists, but her hard work and dedication to her employees, to education, and to women helped build her reputation as one of the top CEOs on the planet. Her ability to lead a global corporation to so much success will be studied in business schools for generations to come.
Authored by Kristen Bentley, Reporter, SmallBizTechnology.com