Indra Nooyi – a ‘mentor + inspiration’

Indra Nooyi – a ‘mentor + inspiration’

Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi, born in into a middle-class family in Chennai on October 18, 1955, rose to become one of the top female Indian American executives who is consistently ranked among the world’s 100 most powerful women.

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Nooyi’s name was floated by Ivanka Trump. (File Photo)

Former CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, may soon head the World Bank. Nooyi’s name was reportedly floated for the post by President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, reports The New York Times. In a tweet in August 2018, Ivanka called Nooyi a “mentor + inspiration,”. It is unclear if Nooyi will accept the nomination to succeed Jim Yong Kim.

Early Life

Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi was born into a middle-class family in Chennai on October 18, 1955. As a young girl, she played the guitar in a band and was also a member of an all-girls’ cricket team.

Nooyi began her education at Holy Angels Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School. She graduated from Madras Christian College after studying Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics in 1974. After graduation, she pursued MBA from the Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata in 1976 and also earned a seat in Yale School of Management in the US for further studies.

She is married to Raj Nooyi, a management consultant of Indian origin. The couple has two daughters.

Career growth at PepsiCo


Nooyi worked with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Motorola and Asea Brown Boveri after earning a Yale degree. After gaining much prominence as a strategist, she received several job offers from some of the leading firms, including General Electric and PepsiCo.

It was in 1994 that she joined PepsiCo, the second largest food and beverage business in the world by net revenue, as senior vice-president of corporate strategy and development.

In 2000, Nooyi was promoted as chief financial officer due to her impressive work. In 2006, she became the fifth CEO in the company after the retirement of Steve Reinemund.

In August last year, she decided to step down as PepsiCo’s Chief Executive Officer after 12 years at its helm but announced she will remain chairman till early 2019.


Nooyi has consistently been ranked on ‘Forbes’ list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. In 2017, she was ranked second on the Forbes’ list of most powerful women in business after Mary T Barra, CEO of General Motors. In 2016, she was ranked third on the list.

‘Fortune’ magazine named her No.1 on its annual ranking of Most Powerful Women in business for five consecutive years from 2006 to 2010. In 2007, she was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the President of India.

In 2008, Nooyi was named one of America’s Best Leaders by US News & World Report. She was also elected to the Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In the same year, Nooyi was elected chairwoman of the US-India Business Council (USIBC). She leads USIBC’s Board of Directors, an assembly of more than 60 senior executives representing a cross-section of American industry. Nooyi was also named 2009 CEO of the Year by Global Supply Chain Leaders Group.

Remarks that created a stir

As a woman achiever, Nooyi created a stir with her remarks in 2014 when she acknowledged that it is difficult to maintain a work-life balance and women cannot “have it all”. Nooyi had said she has died “with guilt” several times as she tried to bring up her two daughters.

Read: ‘Indian tradition’, the one thing that can pull even Indra Nooyi and Priyanka Chopra down

“I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all,” she had then said. In another instance, Nooyi had narrated an anecdote about how her family responded on her news of promotion in 2006, when she was going to be named the president of the company and included in the board of directors.


After informing of her promotion, she was told by her mother to go and buy milk. When she returned with the milk and confronted her mother about her lack of interest in her promotion, her mother had told her that she might be the president of PepsiCo, “but when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. So leave that damned crown in the garage.”