Come Oct. 1, Yale Corporation Successor Fellow Indra Nooyi SOM ’80

will be the chief executive officer of $33 billion food and beverage

company PepsiCo.

Nooyi has worked at PepsiCo since 1994 and served as its president and

chief financial officer since 2001. She will replace current Chairman

and CEO Steve Reinemund at the helm of the Fortune 500 company.

Yale President Richard Levin said he thinks Nooyi will be well suited

to her new position, given her knowledge of finance and corporate


“She exhibits qualities in the Corporation meetings that would make

her desirable to be a chief executive officer at a company like

Pepsi,” Levin said. “She has an astute analytical mind, she grasps

finance extremely well and she has a keen sense of organizational


Nooyi will become the fifth CEO in the company’s 41-year history. She

played a leading role in major changes to the company in recent years,

including the decision to sell company holdings in restaurants

including Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken. The company

acquired Quaker Oats and Gatorade in an effort to expand

healthful-food initiatives.

The senior vice president for public relations at PepsiCo, Mark

Dollins, said in an e-mail that Nooyi is focused on internal

communications, retail customer visits and the transition with

Reinemund and was unable to accommodate an interview request.

Earlier this month, a research group in India claimed that soft drinks

from Coca-Cola and PepsiCo contained elevated levels of pesticides.

Several Indian states banned the sale of some soft drinks in schools

and government offices, while the southern Indian state of Kerala

implemented a complete ban on sale and production of the drinks,

according to the Associated Press.

School of Management Associate Dean Jeffrey Sonnenfeld said Nooyi

brings an array of skills that will be valuable for her new position.

“She is a remarkable choice who has been long groomed for the position

but she brings first and foremost incredible breadth of experience,

tenacious competitiveness and strategic brilliance with the added

sensitivity to wide-ranging cultures,” Sonnenfeld said. “Indra is

great at breaking down barriers everywhere in the world from Latin

America through Asia.”

Nooyi is active in the SOM community. She frequently serves as a

guest lecturer at the SOM, Sonnenfeld said, where she “really engages

the students by having the students puzzle through problems with her

rather than as a lecturer.”

The elevation of Nooyi to CEO comes after several successful years of

corporate strategy influenced by Nooyi in gauging consumer trends,

said Gary Hemphill, the managing director at Beverage Marketing

Corporation, a research and consulting firm for the beverage industry.

“This is really the culmination of a terrific career at PepsiCo,”

Hemphill said. “I wouldn’t expect an abrupt change at the company. I

would expect it to be a fairly seamless transition.”

Nooyi was born in Madras, India, where she received an undergraduate

degree at Madras Christian College in 1976. She went on to graduate in

1978 with an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta.

At the Yale School of Management, Nooyi graduated with a master’s of

public and private management.

In addition to her responsibilities on the Corporation, Nooyi is also

a member of the President’s Council on International Activities and

the SOM advisory board.