PepsiCo under Nooyi: From a cola company to a healthy snacks maker

Indra Nooyi's journey from a middle-class family in Chennai to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, PepsiCo, has been inspirational to say the least. From her first stint at Johnson & Johnson's to the top position at PepsiCo, here's a look at her extraordinary rise in the world of business:
Indra Nooyi was born into a middle-class family in Chennai on October 28, 1955. She did her bachelor's degree in Science from Madras Christian College in 1974, and followed it up with an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.

She started her career with Johnson & Johnson's India subsidiary and had a stint in textile manufacturing firm Mettur Beardsell, before moving to the US. She got her master's degree from the Yale School of Management and then joined the Boston Consulting Group. She assumed senior managerial roles at Motorola and Asea Brown Boveri between 1986 and 1994.

In 1994, Nooyi moved to PepsiCo as senior vice-president for strategic planning, starting a 24 year-long career at the American food and beverage giant. During her first few years, Nooyi oversaw a number of key restructurings. In 1997, Pepsi decided to promote its sub-brands Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell and earned a significant profit of $4.5 billion.
The company used this profit to slash its $8.5-billion debt pile by more than half. The move also allowed the company to accelerate its share buyback strategy, giving it the financial flex to invest in further business development.

The following year, Nooyi played a key role in PepsiCo's acquisition of Tropicana. The $3.3-billion deal was significant as it placed Pepsi in direct competition with rival Coca-Cola - the owner of soft beverage company Minute Maid - in the non-fizzy drinks market.

In 2000, Pepsi made another strategic acquisition with Quaker Oats for $13.4 billion. The deal also gave Pepsi control of Quaker's popular and lucrative sports drink brand Gatorade. The acquisitions helped Pepsi become a widely diversified consumer staples firm.

Under Nooyi, PepsiCo forayed into healthier alternatives. The company was the first to tag its products with catchy one-liners: 'fun for you' (potato chips and regular soda), 'better for you' (diet or low-fat versions of snacks and fizzy drinks), and 'good for you' (Quaker Oats oatmeal).
With Nooyi at the helm, the company witnessed net revenue growth of 5.5%, compounded annually, from $35 billion in 2006 to $63.5 billion in 2017.
Nooyi's strategy to expand Pepsi's operations into other areas also resulted in several groundbreaking deals. For instance, PepsiCo is negotiating to build a separate plant and develop an agricultural area in Myanmar. She was elected Chair of the US-India Business Council that first started working on long-term commercial partnerships and nurturing entrepreneurship, creating jobs.
As CEO, Nooyi ensured revenue growth of over 80% and reportedly added a new billion-dollar brand almost every other year. Shareholders too have benefited from her moves. Those who invested $1,000 in PepsiCo in 2006 have now earned more than two-and-a-half times the investment by the end of 2017. Since December 31, 2006, the total shareholder return is at 162% through December 31, 2017. A total amount of $79.4 billion has been returned to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases between 2006 and 2017.

Nooyi is a rare figure at the Wall Street: A woman from a minority community leading a Fortune 500 company. In 2017, Nooyi was placed at No. 2 on the US Fortune's list of 'The Most Powerful Women in Business' outside the US. She also topped the list of highest-paid female CEOs.

Nooyi also serves on the boards of the International Cricket Council, and several non-profit organisations, including the US-India Business Council, Forum, Catalyst, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management, the World Economic Forum and the Asia Society.