Myra's Power Woman: Indra Nooyi
Indra Nooyi, the chairperson and CEO of Pepsico, is defying gender roles since her childhood.... she is a force of nature and a power to be reckoned with, all with good reason.
Shouldering her responsibilities of chairperson and chief executive office of Pepsico, Nooyi is consistently ranked among the world's most powerful women. The 'learning CEO', who is constantly renewing her skills, found her due spot once again in the global list in the last year - the Chennai born Nooyi was ranked number 13 in Forbes' The World's 100 Most Powerful Women list and was named as the third most powerful woman in business by Fortune. This privilege is indicative of her efficiency and management skills both in and out of the office, and could serve as an interesting and inspiring case study for women who aspire to be like her.
Breaking The Mould:
During her growing-up years in India which was still defined by gender roles, Nooyi defined prescriptions. She played cricket and was a member of an all-girl rock band in college. Even as a corporate executive, she remained an enthusiastic singer and electric guitarist. She once said, "I was a wild one."
Nooyi shies away from the extremely formal atmospheres. She sings, she walks around barefoot, and makes it a point to attend to her family's telephone calls even during critical business meetings. Nooyi is not one to dispose of her Indian heritage, she is known to have spiritual leanings and wears a sari with a much ease as she does a business suit. In other words, her general attitude is not stereotypically in tune to the "ideal" manner in which a CEO conducts themselves.
Tryst With Yale:
Although her mother expected her to get married after college and was not keen on her move to Yale, Nooyi was unstoppable and would let nothing come in the way of her dreams.
Nooyi relies on inductive thinking to develop her strategies in line with her vision for the company. "I don't think I could have gotten here without a strategy consultant background because it taught me inductive thinking. It taught me how to think of the problem in micro terms but also to zoom out and put the problem in the context of its broader environment and then zoom back in to solve the problem."
A tireless worker herself, Nooyi gets only 5 hours of sleep a night, and continuously educates herself, re-evaluating her decisions and ensuring that she is keeping the best interest of the company and its employees in mind. To her, her employees are like an extended family, and she ensures that their needs and concerns are addressed so as to ensure the overall running efficiency of the company. The formal and impersonal atmosphere at PepsiCo, therefore, is a friendly one where her receptionist is known to have fielded calls from her daughter regarding homework and television privileges.
Indra Nooyi continues to be one of the most successful Indian women in the business world, and her consistent success, acquisitions and associations with various ancillary businesses (Pizza Hut & Taco Bell to name a few) along with her promotion of in-house brands such as Frito Lay, Tropicana Fruit Juice and Quaker Oats, shows her multi-faceted personality, and unwavering attention to every detail. Nooyi is one of the most powerful women in the world, and one of the richest, however, that does not prevent her from inspecting the most minute details pertaining to product marketing and packaging; nor does it erode her Indian roots, of which she is evidently very proud. She comes across as a balanced and credible personality who practices what she preaches and considers all those around her as equals.
This is her overall success mantra, tried, tested, and completely successful.
5 Leadership Strategies
Balance The Short Term And Long Term
Indra Nooyi believes in focusing on the short term quarterly results while yielding decisions that affect the long term health of the organisation.
Finding a balance is essential.
Develop An Understanding Of Public / Private Partnerships
Work together within both sectors rather than demonise one sector from the other and vice versa. This is an ideology that is found to be common practice among private and public sectors.
Think Global, Act Local
Yield innovative and out of the box solutions. When advertising think about your local marketplace and their society and culture. Reconnect with your international audience.
Keep An Open Mind, Adapt To Change
Ask questions to facilitate dialog and exploration. Do not close you minds to dissent and lead on to a constructive debate if needed.
Lead With Your Head And Your Heart
Leaders must show a form of emotional intelligence and bring 100% of themselves to work each day. Remind yourself that having a human connection and bond with those in your company is essential to your overall success.
"As a leader, I am tough on myself and I raise the standard for everybody; however, I am very caring because I want people to excel at what they are doing so that they can aspire to be me in the future."
"Leadership is hard to define and good leadership is even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the Earth, you are a great leader."
"I'm very honest - brutally honest. I always look at things from their point of view as well as mine. And I know when to walk away."
"Blogging and the Internet allows us to engage in a lot more real time conversations as opposed to a one-way dump of information or a message."
"I think innovation as a discipline needs to go back and get rethought and revived."
"Just because you are CEO, don't think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organised. I've never forgotten that."
"When you assume negative intent, you're angry. if you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed."
"As a leader, I am tough on myself and I raise the standard for everybody."
"I pick up the detail that drive the organisation insane."