Indra Nooyi's tips on how to be heard in a roomful of men
As the CEO of PepsiCo. And one of the most powerful women in the world of business, Indra Nooyi can safely be considered as one of the most influential people to listen to; her advice matters. Born into humble beginnings which lacked the privilege of connections in high places, Nooyi is a rare example of an individual who has slowly but steadily overcome numerous socio-economic barriers to attain the position she has today. An example to all, especially women who aspire for great things, Nooyi’s words of advice on being heard, being respected, and being understood, are words of wisdom worthy of inculcating and living by. Nooyi speaks at various events and gatherings where she is constantly asked to share the “best advice” for the CEO’s of the future; her answer has always been, “be yourself”. Indeed, not fearing the fact that you are a woman with dreams to achieve success in a largely male-dominated workforce has often cause women to lean back rather than inwards during business meetings and discussions where participation is mandatory. This fear must be overcome, and you must fearlessly come forward with your views and pitch, in order to be noticed. There is no hope in being noticed if you are silent and afraid of your own voice. Carrying forward a similar point, Nooyi, like other female leaders, is of the opinion that maintaining a work and home balance is necessary. She is quoted as having said, “While at work, I focus 100% on being a CEO; when at home, I focus 100% on my family”. Bringing domestic issues to the office, and vice versa will lead to a lack of focus, and will unfortunately push a notion about women professionals which needs to be debunked; women do have the potential to balance work and home life without hassle! Another point which is brought forward is to work with, and not against male colleagues. Women power is empowering, however when one is in a workplace where both genders are present, it is always advisable to put aside all prejudice and animosity, and maintain cordial and professional relationships with male colleagues. Women are capable of communicating effectively in all spheres of life, including workplace situations. In situations where men’s voices drown out the women’s, the women will just need to shout louder, and clearly, with due respect to their counterparts. One of the most interesting pieces of advice, and certainly one of the most relevant and amusing, is to be “that deaf frog that hears nothing and is focussed on climbing the hill”. For every woman who has worked hard to earn respect and large deals, there is that minority of women who play the gender card and expect special treatment on the basis of their gender. Nooyi says that this is damaging, not only to the woman’s career, but will also harden age old prejudices which trivialize women’s professional abilities. Avoid this type of behaviour, and follow the rules of business without bending them for convenience. Nooyi herself is respected widely by colleagues of both genders for her gender neutral stances on all matters; above all she is known for her sound business acumen. Indra Nooyi’s golden words of advice serve to enlighten future female CEO’s of the dangers of coming across as fake or manipulative, and stresses the importance of being genuine. A loud and clear voice which makes valid points and adds value to a company will always win over meaningless statements. The goal therefore, is to develop self-confidence, a plan of action, and to go into the professional field with a winning attitude, and a voice to boot!