Indra Nooyi: Success mantra and leadership style
Indra Nooyi is a force of nature and a power to be reckoned with, all with good reason. She is ranked 4th on the Forbes List of most influential women of 2013, and also has the privilege of being one of the most powerful mothers in the world. 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. Firstly, Nooyi shies away from the extremely formal atmospheres one would imagine permeates the corridors and office cubicles at the PepsiCo. head quarters. She sings, she walks around barefoot, and makes it a point to attend to her family’s telephone calls even during critical business meetings. Not one to dispose of her Indian heritage, she is known to have spiritual leanings and wears a sari with as much ease as she dons a business suit. In other words, her general attitude is not stereotypically in tune to the “ideal” manner in which a CEO conducts themselves. On the contrary her conduct and demeanor appears to suggest the very opposite of stiff, formal correctness. Being comfortable, and being true to ones self without compromising on principles seems to be the pathway she has adopted for herself, and judging by her success, it seems to be working wonders for her company and personal credibility. Secondly, 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” she says. Thirdly, Nooyi recommends not sitting on your laurels just because you have attained a high rank in the professional sphere. A tireless worker herself, she 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 home work and television privileges. Other aspects of leadership which are often expounded via lectures and books but are rarely, if ever, executed effectively, include being able to manage crises, communicate clearly and to be an expert in one’s field. Nooyi herself serves as a real life case study in all of the above contexts; her business acumen has resulted in PepsiCo. doubling it’s profits, while her habit of surrounding herself with mentors whose advice she seeks and heeds shows both humility as well as the desire to continue expanding her knowledge and networking base. 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 [namely Pizza Hut and Taco Bell among others] 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. She might be 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.