62-year-old Indra Nooyi took over as CEO in 2006, becoming the first woman Chief Executive of PepsiCo. After serving for 24 years at the helm of PepsiCo and 12 years as the Chief Executive of the company, Indra Nooyi has now decided to step down.
At several occasions had Indra mentioned the role her strong mother had played throughout her childhood and adolescence. The traits of that strong lady had definitely helped this corporate woman who is an epitome of success for the millions of young Indians who aspire to be like her as they watched her journey through the ranks of PepsiCo and eventually leading the global conglomerate.
At a “Women in Leadership Panel” in New York, Nooyi said she’s always pushed back against adversity and her confidence is built upon an unusual daily habit her mother made her and her elder sister, Chandrika, practice when they were just 8 to 11 years old.
Nooyi grew up in the socially conservative city of Madras. Her mother adhered to some traditional beliefs- she stressed the importance of seeking a good husband early – but she also instilled in her two daughters the belief that they could grow up to become whomever they wanted.
“Every night at the dinner table, my mother would ask us to write a speech about what we would do if we were President, Chief Minister or Prime Minister- every day would be a different world leader she’d ask us to play”. “At the end of dinner, we had to give the speech, and she had to decide whom she was going to vote for”.
The winner of the debate then signed a piece of paper that stated they had become whatever the world leader of the day was. The girls and their mom would laugh and have fun with it, but Nooyi said she and her sister came to appreciate it, even after they became too cool for the ritual when they hit adolescence.
“Even though my mother didn’t work and didn’t go to college, she lived a life vicariously through her daughters”, Nooyi said. “So she gave us that confidence to be whatever we wanted to be. That was an incredibly formative experience in my youth”.
“In my heart, I said, ‘I can do this better than anyone else can, and if everything else fails, they’re going to come to me and say, ‘Fix it’, because I know I’m that good”, she said. “Remember, I could be President of India!”
Throughout the gathering in New York as well as in many more interviews and chats, Indra Nooyi has always held high the spirit of an Indian woman who has been molded and brought up by a mother whose will power and determination was always instilled by the belief in her daughters.
First Published at Creative Moms Hub