Leaders and Strategies in Real Life: Indra Nooyi Edition

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Instead of studying leadership, why not spend some time studying leaders and strategies in the wild? You can learn a lot from leadership experts, but you always see the leader and what he or she does through the expert’s personal lens. Supplement that learning with studying real leaders in real life situations and draw your own conclusions. The posts in this series will help you.

Every week I’ll point you to articles by and about real leaders in real situations and to articles about how real companies are faring in the marketplace. Read them. Think about them. Draw your own lessons and conclusions from them. Then try to apply those lessons in your own real life.

This week I’m pointing you to articles about Indra Nooyi. She’s one of the most impressive business leaders in my lifetime and she just announced that she would retire as CEO of Pepsico after 24 years with the company and 12 years as CEO. Here are some recent articles about her tenure.

From Julie Creswell: Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo C.E.O. Who Pushed for Healthier Products, to Step Down

“In her 12 years as chief executive of PepsiCo, Indra K. Nooyi has been part of an elite club: She is one of only a small number of women leading large corporations. It is a position that has often meant her every move received greater scrutiny than the actions of her male peers. That was true again on Monday, when Ms. Nooyi, 62, announced she was giving it all up and handing the reins of the multinational conglomerate to Ramon Laguarta, a 22-year veteran of the company, in October.”

From Beth Kowitt: PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi Is ‘Concerned’ Her Departure Will Leave So Few Female CEOs

“When Indra Nooyi steps down after 12 years running PepsiCo in October, the consumer packaged goods industry will lose its current longest-running CEO, and perhaps its most visible and vocal. But an even more exclusive club will say goodbye to one of its longtime members. Nooyi’s departure in two months will further diminish the already small group of female Fortune 500 CEOs—she is one of just 25—and the even more minuscule ranks of women of color. (When Nooyi took the job at PepsiCo in October 2006, she was one of 11 female CEOs running a Fortune 500 company.)”

From Danielle Wiener-Bronner: How Indra Nooyi built Pepsi for the future

“During 24 years at the company, half of which she spent as CEO, she acquired big-name brands, invested in healthy products and fended off a call to split up Pepsi’s (PEP) food and beverage businesses.”

From Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld: Departing PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi Did It Her Way

“Indra Nooyi ’80, who has served as PepsiCo’s CEO since 2006, announced this week that she will step down this fall. Yale SOM’s Jeffrey Sonnenfeld writes that Nooyi brought a rare combination of intelligence, toughness, and vision to the job.”

Here’s a selection of articles about Ms Nooyi. They’re in chronological order from approximately the beginning of her tenure as CEO. Two of the posts are no longer available online. I included them because I think the short clip I took from the post back then will still give you some insight.

From Claudia H. Deutsch: A Woman to Be Chief at PepsiCo

“PepsiCo said yesterday that its president and chief financial officer, Indra K. Nooyi, would succeed Steven S. Reinemund as chief executive on Oct. 1, a move that makes the company one of the largest led by a woman.”

From Business Week blogs: Indra Nooyi: Keeping Cool In Hot Water

“At PepsiCo Inc. (PEP ), Indra Nooyi has long been known for two things: a prescient business sense and an irreverent personal style. The combination became obvious soon after she joined the company as its chief strategist 13 years ago. She pushed Chief Executive Roger Enrico to spin off Taco Bell (YUM ), Pizza Hut (YUM ), and KFC (YUM ) in 1997 because she didn’t feel PepsiCo could add enough value to the fast food business. She later was instrumental in the purchase of Tropicana, the spinoff of Pepsi’s bottling business, and the $13 billion merger with Quaker Oats Co. Each of these moves has paid off. “

This page is no longer available online.

From DDI: A Skill in Short Supply

“What do you consider to be the most important leadership trait for a CEO to have? Is it ‘Influencing Skills’ or ‘strategic decision making?’ Or perhaps ‘business acumen’ or ‘talent management’ is at the top of your list of CEO right stuff. All are likely found on the success profiles or job specs of many Chief Executive positions. How about the proven ability to run a large operation with P&L responsibilities? I think one could make a case for any of the above and I’m certain that there are many senior leaders out there working in assignments to develop those skills because the senior talent review team in the organization has deemed those skills or experiences as ‘must haves’ for aspiring CEOs. Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo and Fortune magazine’s #1 Most Powerful Business Woman, has another view.”

This page is no longer available online.

From Bill Snyder: Pepsi CEO: Break With the Past, and Don’t Play Too Nice

“Six management tips from Indra Nooyi, one of the most powerful women in business.”

From Daniel Roth: Indra Nooyi just issued a major challenge to the world’s CEOs

“When you talk to CEOs about what’s coming next for their companies, you typically get the 18-month plan or the someday-maybe plan. The first is a set of achievable goals, based on everything going right; the second involves going to Mars — a 10- to 20-year- vision that is more rallying cry than roadmap. PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, on the other hand, has managed to combine both metrics and mission. Earlier this week, she unveiled her 10-year goals for the $65 billion-in-expected-revenue snack-and-beverage giant. Called ‘Performance with Purpose,’ the plan involves a set of targets that can only be achieved if people change their diets, farmers change their practices, and managers keep changing how they think about their role.”

From Andrew Saunders: How to lead like Indra Nooyi

“The CEO of PepsiCo is one of the most senior businesswomen on the planet. Here’s how to drink her Kool-Aid.”

From Robert Safian: How PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi Is Steering the Company Toward A Purpose-Driven Future

“PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and chief scientist Mehmood Khan are committed to working toward progress in health and sustainability.”

For some ideas about how to get more from this series of posts, check out “Studying Leaders in the Wild.

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