While the election of Maya Lin ’81 ARC ’86 to the Yale Corporation came after a tumultuous campaign, another woman will soon be taking her seat at the boardroom table with little fanfare.
Indra Nooyi SOM ’80, the president and chief financial officer of PepsiCo, was selected by the Corporation to replace departing senior fellow Kurt Schmoke ’71. John E. Pepper ’60, who has served as a trustee since 1995, is the new senior fellow.
There will now be six women among the Corporation’s 16 trustees. Yale historian Gaddis Smith said Nooyi’s appointment was representative of a trend of appointing female successor trustees with achievement in the business world.
Yale President Richard Levin and University Secretary Linda Lorimer voiced enthusiasm about Nooyi’s selection.
Levin, who called Nooyi one of the most successful School of Management graduates, said her experience working with large organizations would be an asset to the Corporation.
“It is always helpful to have some people on the board who have worked in large organizations,” Levin said. “She’s very, very bright. I think we will be actively engaged.”
Nooyi, who was included on Forbes’ list of the top 50 female executives, is a native of Madras, India, and received an undergraduate degree at Madras Christian College. After earning her MBA from the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta, she worked in India for two years and came to the U.S. to attend the SOM.
She joined PepsiCo, the world’s fourth largest food and beverage company, in 1994 after working for the Boston Consulting Group and Motorola.
A Corporation standing committee, the trusteeship committee, is responsible for researching and presenting potential trustees to the entire board for deliberation. Lorimer said she cannot recall a vote for successor trustee where the board was not unanimous in agreement.
Nooyi’s service to Yale has included her role as a featured speaker for Yale’s tercentennial and on the President’s Council on International Activities. She will kick off the SOM’s leader’s forum lecture series with a talk on corporate values.
Nooyi voiced enthusiasm about her selection.
“I am enormously honored to have been asked to join the Yale Corporation. I feel I owe so much to the education I received at Yale,” Nooyi said in a statement. “As someone who grew up knowing of Yale half a world away, I treasure the opportunity to contribute to the University in the years ahead.”
Stan Garstka, the deputy dean of SOM, remembers Nooyi from her days as a business student, saying that she was capable and ambitious even then.
“She is one of these people that you meet and you know that she is destined to do wonderful things,” Garstka said.
He attributed her success in the business world to strong values and her forthright nature.
“She is very direct, no nonsense, very bright and very articulate,” Garstka said.
Nooyi lives with her husband and two children in Greenwich.