In India, the moment a girl is born, it is taken for granted that she must live her life in order to please others. Her career aspirations and goals are things that are absolutely unimportant to her family members. Teaching her household skills and making her marriage-material holds greater significance in their minds.
Luckily for the society, Indra Nooyi's parents did not think that way. They, in fact, motivated her to have dreams and aspirations of her own and gave her equal opportunities as that of any male member in the same household.
Indra also made the most of the opportunities given to her and carved a niche for her by becoming the CEO of PepsiCo. Read on to know more about her phenomenal journey.
Early Life And Academics
Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi was born on 28th October 1955 to Tamil parents. Her father was a progressive officer with State Bank of Hyderabad.
Following her schooling from AIHSS Chennai, Indra went on to get a BSc from Madras Christian College. Her subject combination during her graduation days was the royal combination of physics, chemistry and mathematics. During the last leg of her academic life in India, Indra moved to Kolkata to pursue her master's in finance and marketing from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta.
Settling For A Career
Indra started her career with ABB and then went on to work for Johnson & Johnson. In fact, Indra played a major role in the launch of Stayfree, Johnson & Johnson's first sanitary napkin. By this time Indra had become a symbol of women empowerment in the country. However, this ambitious girl wanted to achieve way more than that. That is why she decided to go for a master's degree in public and private management from the prestigious Yale Management School in the US.
Believing In Herself
During her days of management studies abroad, Indra found that almost all her peers appeared for job interviews in western formal wear. In order to fit in, she saved up enough money (trousers and suits are pretty expensive for an Indian student studying abroad) and got herself one.
However, in a matter of days she realised that this was not her cup of tea and that she was at her best when she was herself. This prompted her to shun the trousers for a saree and embark on a lifelong journey of being herself.
The PepsiCo Journey
Starting small, Indra made her way to the board of directors of PepsiCo. It was her hard work and steady determination that made people notice her and in 2006 she was named the successor to Steve Reinemund.
Following this takeover and having over 2,85,000 employees working under her, Indra had ensured that she drives the company from strength to strength with her exceptional leadership skills.
It was meticulous planning on her part that fostered PepsiCo's acquisition of Tropicana and Quaker, fruit juice brands, which in turn ensured that PepsiCo's stature as the market leader remains unhindered even in the wake of such a dynamic market.
One new concept that Indra Nooyi brought into PepsiCo was that of innovation. With Mountain Dew ads featuring the 1960s and 70s, Indra was able to bring in a tinge of her childhood into the company that she worked for. This worked very well with the older generation who connected to her nostalgia and this resulted in the products selling very well.
Indra also bought about Pepsi Natural, a product that featured all natural products. This appealed to the younger generation who were more conscious about their health and diet. Thus, it was Indra Nooyi's smart thinking and calculated planning which ensured that PepsiCo remain the market leaders even during the times of recession and inflation.
A Life Beyond Work
Anyone who looks at Indra Nooyi's life from afar will feel that she is one who is totally focused on her career and that there is no room for anything else. However, that is far from being true.
Indra manages her family life at a commendable pace and is a proud mother of two daughters. Other than that, she does have hobbies which are not linked to her career. She has an immense love for art and that is what prompted her to become a member of boards of the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts.
A simple and chirpy woman, Indra hates controversies and makes it a point to keep herself away from those. People who know her, claim that she has an amazing sense of humour.
Takeaways From Her Life
- Indra was a very mediocre student during her days in Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta. Her success story is a testimony to the fact that your marks do not define who you are.
- Indra was doing well in her career when she was working for Johnson & Johnson. However, she decided to aim for something higher. This just shows that if you want to make it big in life you just have to raise the bars for yourself.
- Indra realised early on in life that beauty was being herself. This formed the basis of her lifelong belief in establishing one's unique identity.
- Even after joining PepsiCo, Indra did not become the CEO overnight. It was years of dedicated effort that enabled her to reach that pinnacle. Thus, unless one puts in the required amount of effort, they cannot expect good things to come their way.
- Once she became the CEO, she did not stop innovating. Rather, she geared up and walked the extra mile to ensure that PepsiCo remains the market leader come what may. This goes on to prove that no matter how high you rise in life or in your career, you just have to prove your calibre every working day.
- It is a myth that one cannot have a successful life and a happy family life at the same time. Indra Nooyi's story is a proof of this fact.