Indra Nooyi may be in Joe Biden's Cabinet – here's a look at her take on some key issues concerning India and US
- Indian American
Indra Nooyiserved as the Chairman of Pepsico for 12 long years and stepped down in October 2018.
- She is currently serving as a board member of US e-commerce giant Amazon.
- Nooyi is being considered for the position of Commerce Secretary in the President-elect of the US
Joe Biden’s cabinet.
“When I imagine the future of leadership, one face I picture is Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo,” that’s what Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who chairs the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative, wrote in 2010. Kanter was not just praising Nooyi, it was a eulogy to globalisation itself.
After four years of Donald Trump administration, the rise of one of the biggest mascots of globalisation may be seen as a relief from countries like India, which are key exporters to the US. India also has a lot of grouse against the US for cracking down on H-1B visas and the pressure from Washington on trade tariffs, to name a few.
Chennai’s rebel child is leading change in America
Born in Chennai, Nooyi graduated from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta and later went on to study at Yale School of Management in 1978. Nooyi has often spoken about being a rebellious child in a conservative family in South India.
But the rebel at heart has gone on to make big changes in one of the biggest FMCG companies in the world – PepsiCo.
Nooyi served as the Chairman of Pepsico for 12 long years and stepped down in October 2018. She is currently serving as a board member of US e-commerce giant Amazon, being the second woman of colour, to be on the board of the Jeff Bezos-led company.
Nooyi – a master of managing large organisations smoothly
During her tenure at PepsiCo, its net revenue grew at an annualised rate of 5.5%. When she began her term as the company’s CEO, Nooyi successfully thwarted activist investor Nelson Peltz’s motive to split PepsiCo into two – beverages and snacks to be managed differently.
In fact, during Nooyi’s reign, PepsiCo again created a buzz in the stock market – the company’s share price more than doubling during her tenure.
One of Nooyi’s most appreciated work formulas has been her design-led thinking that led to the company’s growth. Experts have documented this approach. She is also known to have frequented markets often to see how PepsiCo’s products were placed on the shelves. “We don’t sell products based on the manufacturing we have, but on how our target consumers can fall in love with them,” she had told the Harvard Business Review in an interview in 2015.
Will Nooyi restore global trade back to its glory days?
It is beyond doubt that Nooyi has been among the biggest faces representing the success of globalisation in the last few decades. By the time she stepped down as Pepsi CEO, almost a fifth of PepsiCo’s net revenues came from Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
However, it may be too soon to expect her to reverse the setback to global trade under Donald Trump administration, which took a hard stance wherever it could. “Everyone recognises that global trade is good, at the same time when you are in recession and have extreme levels of joblessness in certain countries, protectionist tendencies are inevitable. The challenge is to talk our way through this and really craft the policy that threads the needle between globalization on the one hand and protectionist tendencies on the other hand,” Nooyi said in an interview to NDTV in 2010.
Nooyi's stand on H1B Visa
Indra Nooyi was among the 59 top CEOs of America who had signed a letter calling out Trump's H1B visa policy's severe consequences. The CEOs spoke up against the inconsistent immigrant decisions and wrote in the letter that "those shifts were "unfair" and created a risk of "unnecessary costs and complications."
Ivanka Trump called Nooyi her mentor
Throughout her illustrious career, Nooyi has found a mention in almost every other influential or powerful list across the globe. She was also reportedly approached by Ivanka Trump to be the next World Bank chief.
When Nooyi was stepping down from PepsiCo, Ivanka Trump had taken to Twitter to celebrate her friend and "mentor."
The great @IndraNooyi is stepping down as PepsiCo CEO, after 12 yrs.Indra, you are a mentor + inspiration to so ma… https://t.co/zDWNTR8rBf— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) 1533649524000
However, Nooyi has always been known to be a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton. When Clinton had lost the elections in 2016, Nooyi had said that she was seriously concerned about the safety of women, gay workers, and others.
Nooyi has clearly been able to make friends across ideologies and political beliefs.
Nooyi's bond with Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden
When Kamala Harris was selected as Joe Biden's Vice Presidential candidate, Nooyi had taken to social media to share the excitement about her friend Kamala.
I am truly excited and encouraged by @JoeBiden’s selection of @KamalaHarris to be his Vice President. I’ve had the… https://t.co/ioNUXOm1Wn— Indra Nooyi (@IndraNooyi) 1597190430000
During Biden's tenure as the Vice President of the US, Nooyi was honored by Biden during an event hosted by the U.S. India Business Council (USIBC). In 2014, during lunch in honour of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to America, Nooyi was seated next to Biden.
When she stepped down as the Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, Nooyi was asked whether she would join politics. She had then replied that her outspoken nature would cause the third World War if she entered politics. "Me and politics don't mix at all. I am too outspoken, I am not diplomatic. I don't even know what diplomacy is. I would cause a third World War. Don't do it," she had said then.
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