Ordinary is never a word with which one can describe Nooyi.

This Chennai-born woman is an inspiration to businesspersons across the worldPTI/file photo
news Personalities Friday, September 09, 2016 - 16:54

Fortune magazine released its list of Most Powerful Women in Business for the year 2016 on Thursday with Mary Barra, CEO and Chairman of auto giant General Motors topping the rankings.

For the second year in a row, Chennai-born Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi, the CEO and Chairman of PepsiCo was placed second in the list of most powerful businesswomen.  The 60-year-old is largely credited for not only restoring but bettering the company's position at a time when the beverage segment is facing rough weather worldwide.

The improvement on paper is largely thought to be a product of changes initiated by Nooyi, which include her stress on healthier products which in itself brought down costs by $1 billion in a year on an average in the past three fiscals.

For the record, Nooyi was ranked first in the same list on two occasions and has also featured in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

Before taking her charge as the Chairman for the soda behemoth in 2006 (she joined Pepsi in 1994 as a strategist), Nooyi had successful stints at companies like Johnson & Johnson in India and later BCG and Motorola outside the country.

Ordinary is never a word with which one can describe Nooyi.

Born to a middle-class Tamil family (her father was a banker and her mother was a housewife), she earned her Bachelors’ degree from the Madras Christian College in Chennai and later did her MBA from IIM-C.

Besides excelling in academics, she was also a guitarist in an all-girls' rock band.

Having always aspired to be in the US, Nooyi left her job at Johnson & Johnson and applied for the Yale School of Management and got through with a scholarship.

Life was not easy for Nooyi even after the scholarship and she reportedly appeared for a job interview at Booz Allen Hamilton in a saree as she did not have enough money to buy a suit.

Climbing up the ladder at PepsiCo was not easy but steady results in successive junctures made Nooyi prevail. Incidentally, when Nooyi joined the company, it was priced at $19 a share and by the time she was the CEO, it rose to $64. 

Under Nooyi's Chairmanship, the company also improved in environmental sustainability metrics.  

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