Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo – Hero of Conscious Capitalism
Since becoming Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo in 2006, Indra Nooyi has proven that a company can drive innovation and growth while looking out for all of its stakeholders – from employees, to investors, to consumers, to communities.
Nooyi took over a company on the cusp of tremendous change. Born more than 50 years ago through the merger of Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay, PepsiCo had become one of the biggest companies in the world, with more than $35 billion in annual revenue in 2006. But that year, the company reached a crossroads. Consumers were looking for healthier options, while concerns about environmental sustainability continued to grow.
Nooyi saw these trends and knew that PepsiCo needed to adapt if the company’s future was going to be as successful as its past. Her solution was to build on the efforts of her predecessor, raising the bar even higher, while injecting them with an inspirational call to action that galvanized the company. Nooyi christened her new governing philosophy Performance with Purpose, and set three primary goals: Deliver sustained growth by making healthier and more nutritious products; limit the company’s environmental footprint; and empower the company’s associates and the people in the communities it serves.
While the decision to adopt Performance with Purpose may seem obvious in hindsight, at the time it was not universally cheered. To bring more people on board, Nooyi relied on her now-legendary leadership skills, working to gain the full support she needed to reposition the company.
Ultimately, Performance with Purpose would launch PepsiCo into a new era of expansion and success. Today the company generates roughly $63 billion in annual revenue and includes 22 brands that annually bring in more than a billion dollars each, including Aquafina, Quaker, Gatorade, Lay’s, and Tropicana.
As Performance with Purpose began to take off, Nooyi started thinking about how she could impact the company’s culture in other ways. For instance, after seeing how people in South India, where she grew up, paid their respects to her mother after she was named CEO, Nooyi gained a deeper appreciation for the way that all of us are a product of our upbringing, so she decided to start writing letters to the parents of her senior executives, thanking them for the gift of their children. This gesture of gratitude won over many PepsiCo associates – not to mention PepsiCo parents.
In addition to making a point of thanking her senior executives and their parents, she also has aimed to make the company more diverse and friendlier towards working caregivers, promoting more inclusive hiring and opening on-site and near-site childcare centers for associates in certain PepsiCo offices around the world. As a result of her strong leadership, Nooyi was named 2009 CEO of the Year by the Global Supply Chain Leaders Group and in 2013 was named one of the 25 Greatest Global Living Indians by then-President of India Pranab Mukherjee.