Spotlight: Indra Nooyi

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You may not have heard of Indra Nooyi before, but you’ve certainly heard of the mega-company she runs, PepsiCo. Indra is one of only 24 women CEO’s of a Fortune 500 company. Her appointment was newsworthy, as is her departure, which she announced just this week.

Indra was born in Madras, India where she earned degrees in physics, chemistry and math. She eventually made her way to the United States and attended Yale University on a scholarship and obtained a Master’s degree in public and private management. She worked as a consultant and later for large companies in strategy positions. She joined PepsiCo in 1994 and worked her way up to CFO by 2001. In 2006, she was named president and CEO of this second largest food and beverage business in the world.

By all accounts, her tenure at the helm of PepsiCo was a success. Profits substantially increased, strategic mergers and acquisitions were completed and new product lines were successfully introduced to the market. For these accomplishments, Indra has received numerous accolades, including being repeatedly named one of the most successful women in business by Forbes and Fortune.

While Indra has more than earned herself a respite from the grind of corporate leadership, her absence from the top ranks will be felt. Women make up less than 5% of CEO’s of major public companies. When she steps down, that number will tumble further. Gender diversity in our large corporations is as important as it is in any other of our institutions. More women leaders means more creativity and innovation and better business results. Indra is a prime example of this, and for that, she gets this week’s spotlight.

Have a woman leader you think is amazing? Nominate her for the spotlight in the comments. Have a great weekend!

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