Coverage: PepsiCo CEO Nooyi is stepping down
Indra Nooyi announced Monday she was handing the reins of the multinational conglomerate PepsiCo Inc. to Ramon Laguarta, a 22-year veteran of the company, in October after 12 years at the top spot.
Julie Creswell of The New York Times had the news:
Her departure served as a stark reminder that the absence of women at the very top of corporate America remains a problem. She was one of 11 such women at the helm of the biggest American companies in 2006. She’s now one of only 25 in the Standard & Poor’s 500. She will remain PepsiCo’s chairwoman until early 2019, the company said.
In recent months, the list of departing female chief executives has included Denise M. Morrison at Campbell Soup, Margo Georgiadis at the toy company Mattel, Sherilyn S. McCoy at Avon, Irene Rosenfeld at Mondelez and Meg Whitman at Hewlett-Packard. All five have been replaced by men.
The number of women in top jobs has, in fact, fallen sharply.
“I hate seeing her step down this particular year because we’ve had a 25 percent drop in women C.E.O.s at major firms, and this is a big loss,” Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, the senior associate dean of leadership programs at the Yale School of Management, said of Ms. Nooyi.
Rachel Siegel and Jena McGregor of The Washington Post reported how Nooyi pushed the company into healthy treats:
Nooyi’s tenure was more than twice as long as the median chief executive of a large publicly traded company, according to Equilar. It included a campaign by Nelson Peltz, the activist investor behind Trian Fund Management, to merge with the snacks giant Mondelez International and shed its beverage business. But Nooyi fended him off without a break-up — Trian exited his stake in Pepsi in 2016. Her tenure has included acquisitions of healthier foods, such as a Brazilian coconut water company, a stake in hummus maker Sabra, and Pepsi’s recent announcement to purchase Bare Foods, a maker of baked fruit and vegetable snacks.
Nooyi is known to be candid and direct, compared with many of her chief-executive peers, speaking openly about subjects, such as her family or the challenges of being a mother who works outside the home — but at times speaking off the cuff and prompting unintended controversies.
In an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2014, Nooyi was asked about a widely read article by Anne-Marie Slaughter in the Atlanticabout professional women and work-life balance. Nooyi agreed that women can’t have it all, telling stories about the importance of developing coping mechanisms and a support network and how she dealt with not making it to events like class coffees at her daughters’ school.
Chris Isidore of CNNMoney.com wrote about how Nooyi made the company more environmentally aware:
She helped turn Pepsi into one of the most successful food and beverage companies in the world. Sales grew 80% during her 12-year tenure. She spearheaded Pepsi’s transition to a greener, more environmentally aware company.
Nooyi has been with Pepsi for 24 years. Before becoming CEO, she led the company’s expansion through acquisitions, including its 2001 purchase of Quaker Oats. She earned $31 million last year, and $87 million over the last three years, according to company filings.
“Growing up in India, I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to lead such an extraordinary company,” she said.
Nooyi grew up in a middle class family in India. When she and her sister were young, their mother challenged them at the dinner table each night to give speeches about what they would do if they were prime minister or another world leader, a Pepsi spokesperson said. After the speeches, their mother would vote.