First Female CEO Of Hudson Valley-Based Pepsi Stepping Down

Eileen GuzmanAug 07, 2018

The leader who set an example for women professionals across the globe by taking over as CEO of the food and beverage giant, PepsiCo 12 years ago has now made a decision to step down from her role.

Nooyi, 62, will step down on 3 October, 2018, after a 24-year stint with the company.

Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994 and became the Chief Financial Officer in 2001. Her departure also leaves only one woman of color among Fortune 500 CEOs.

She will be replaced by Ramon Laguarta, the company's president, who will be Pepsi's sixth CEO.

PepsiCo's global operations rely less on beverages and more on snacks, an area Nooyi is largely credited with re-shaping and expanding as consumers shifted away from sodas and focused on healthy foods.

In a statement on PepsiCo's India business, Nooyi said, "I'm especially proud of the great work we've done in India to transform our portfolio to include more nutritious products, working with and supporting thousands of Indian farmers, and providing an inclusive workplace..."

"I have an immigrant mentality, which is that the job can be taken away at any time, so make sure you earn it every day", she recounted in Gary Burnison's 2011 book No Fear of Failure: Real Stories of How Leaders Deal With Risk and Change. She characterised PepsiCo's product range as "fun for you" (Pepsi, Lays, Cheetos); "better for you" (baked Lays, Diet Pepsi etc) and "good for you" (Quaker Oats and Tropicana). Previously, Laguarta served as chief executive officer, Europe Sub-Saharan Africa.

Indra Nooyi, who has been CEO of PepsiCo since 2006, announced August 6 that she is stepping down.

Nooyi was named as Fortune's second most powerful woman in business previous year, coming after chairman and CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra. "That will not change", Nooyi, 62, said in an e-mailed statement, a few hours after the U.S. firm announced that she is stepping down. He oversaw global operations, corporate strategy, public policy and government affairs in his role as president. Kohl's is a rare exception because both its CEO, Michelle Gass, and its president, Sona Chawla, are women.

As she ponders her next chapter, Nooyi said she'll possibly take a vacation, in addition to watching the New York Yankees baseball team, and, she quipped, "listen to some music, take a walk in the woods". The Wall Street Journal notes that "during food shortages in the 1960s her middle-class family stood in line for rice rations studded with stones".

In the same year, Nooyi was elected chairwoman of the US-India Business Council (USIBC). PepsiCo revenue grew 81%, to $63.5 billion in 2017, during her time as CEO. Just more than a year ago, there were 32 women leading Fortune 500 companies. Among her critics was the activist investor Nelson Peltz of the Trian Fund Management LP, who dismissed her health and nutrition push as a distraction and accumulated stock in a campaign to split up PepsiCo so shareholder could milk more from the company.

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