Indra Nooyi feels that one needs to be a “learning CEO” in order to run PepsiCo.
As a CEO who truly walks the talk and leads by example, Indra Nooyi is of the opinion that one must be open-minded, among other things, in order to successfully lead a company. Certain skills, she feels, are essential to hone during what she describes as being “a world where volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity go hand in hand”. It is no longer good enough, she states, to simply be “a leader”. Just as an effective teacher is one who is also able to shed ego and other roadblocks to become a willing student, an effective and successful CEO must also be willing and able to occasionally let go of bookish learning and go with the flow, better known as “gut instinct”, a feel which is similarly echoed by billionaire businessman, Donald Trump. It is not merely enough to restrict one’s learning’s to those learned out of a book or in a classroom. Business is nearly always cutthroat, and requires quick thinking, coordinated teamwork, effective communication, and above all, clear ethics which will shape not only the CEO’s reputation, but also the company’s. Nooyi stresses on the need to be “agile”, i.e. versatile and capable of adapting to sudden change or crisis in a solution-oriented manner; she credits students and business persons of Indian origin for their agility which is attributed towards their being conditioned to a VUCA atmosphere, VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Whether one is a topper from a premier management institute or just someone who is passionate and enthusiastic about starting one’s own venture, Nooyi’s constant recommendation is for one to be constantly evolving. Not sticking to old norms and archaic rulebooks about the do’s and don’ts of specific industries is what will allow one to be more open-minded towards change. As the CEO of the second largest food and Beverage Company in the world, Nooyi herself has presented her own ability to be a “learning CEO”. She recently hired PepsiCo’s first ever design chief, Mauro Porcini, whose job it is to integrate a culture of “design thinking” into the company. The concept of creative problem solving in a bid to engage with customers on a meaningful level is already being integrated into the company’s existing policies and Nooyi appears to be enjoying her additional role as a student of this new, exciting culture.