Chief executive officer of PepsiCo for the past 12 years, Indra Nooyi has decided to step down from the position.
At a time when consumer demands for great taste are roaring through the markets, PepsiCo’s leader of over a decade, Indra Nooyi, has decided to step down as CEO this year. She hands the future of the soda and snacks company over to the company’s president, Ramon Laguarta.
Nooyi is one of several female executives who have stepped down from running Fortune 500 companies over the past few months. With her leaving the company, Fortune 500 companies that are led by women have decreased by nearly 25% from 2017 to 2018. Some of the female departures from leadership include Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman and Mondelez CEO Irene Rosenfeld.
The 62-year-old Nooyi helped to guide the maker of Gatorade and Doritos through changing years of customer evolvement and demand. She will officially leave the role in October and remain as the company’s chairman until 2019.
She said in a statement, “Leading PepsiCo has truly been the honor of my lifetime, and I’m incredibly proud of all we have done over the past 12 years to advance the interests not only of shareholders, but all our stakeholders in the communities we serve.”
The Indian-born Nooyi is the first foreign-born CEO of PepsiCo and the first women to lead the company. She worked to ensure massive growth and customer satisfaction as well as an increase in revenue that topped $63 billion at the end of 2017. In a total of 24 years at PepsiCo including 12 years as CEO, she helped to ensure the Mountain Dew and Cheetos maker thrived in the challenging snacks and drinks industry.
Nooyi said in an interview, “I’ve had a wonderful time being CEO, but at some point you sit back and say, look, it’s a responsible move to effect an orderly transition and to have somebody else take over the leadership of this company. Being a CEO requires strong legs and I feel like I ran two legs of a relay race and I want somebody else with nice strong legs and sharp eyes to come and lead this company.”
At a time when very few women rose through the ranks of corporate business, Nooyi graduated with a masters degree from Yale University and joined PepsiCo in 1994 as its head of corporate strategy. By 2000, she was the company’s chief financial officer, president in 2001, and finally in 2006, she became CEO of the company.
While she is not quite sure yet what she will do in the next chapter of her life, Nooyi is certain about one thing.
She said, “I think people like me, after we leave privileged CEO jobs, I don’t think we can go silent. We have to keep fighting the good fight to develop women, to mentor them, to support them, so that we can get more highly qualified women — and there’s plenty of them — into the boardroom, into C suites and into the ultimate CEO job. My job is in fact just beginning once I leave PepsiCo because I can do things now that I was constrained to do when I was CEO of the company.”
Her successor, Ramon Laguarta, takes the reins of the 53-year-old company and will help steer it through a tricky time when beverages and snacks are being forced to evolve into more healthier options for consumers.
Nooyi said of her successor, “Ramon is the product of a responsible development and succession plan. He’s had a birds-eye view of the whole company and what kind of disruptive moves we would have to make, disruptive productivity, to take us to this next era of growth for this company.”