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The Iron-heart, Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi, an Indian-born American businesswoman, was instrumental in the profitable restructuring and diversification of soft-drink manufacturer PepsiCo, Inc.’s brands. She was born on October 28, 1955, in Madras, now Chennai, India. Nooyi was the company’s CEO and chairman of the board of directors from 2006 until 2018.

Indra Nooyi graduated from Madras Christian College with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1976 and the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta with a master’s degree in business administration in 1978. She earned a master’s degree in public and private management from Yale School of Management in 1980 after relocating to the United States. Nooyi worked at the Boston Consulting Group for the next six years as a consultant. She went on to work at Motorola Inc. and Asea Brown Boveri, an engineering business (now ABB).

Nooyi became senior vice president of corporate strategy and development at PepsiCo in 1994. She was appointed as the company’s president and chief financial officer in 2001. Nooyi oversaw a massive restructuring that involved the company’s restaurants—KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell—being spun out into Tricon Global Restaurants (later Yum! Brands, Inc.), as well as PepsiCo’s bottling operations being spun off. She also led the company’s diversification plan, which included the acquisition of Tropicana Products in 1998 and a merger with the Quaker Oats Company in 2001.

In October 2006, Nooyi was named CEO, and the following year, he was also named Chairman of the Board. Nooyi was the first woman to manage PepsiCo and one of only 11 female CEOs of Fortune 500 businesses in the company’s 42-year existence. Although some observers were surprised by Nooyi’s appointment (her predecessor, Steven Reinemund, having only been chairman for five years before abruptly retiring), many complimented the abilities she would bring to the post. PepsiCo’s objective of becoming a well-balanced consumer-products firm with less reliance on sales of its iconic soft drinks was continued under Nooyi’s leadership.

She pursued foreign expansion with vigour as well. PepsiCo’s revenue grew from $35 billion in 2006 to $63.5 billion in 2017 during her leadership.

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