Come Oct. 1, Yale Corporation Successor Fellow Indra Nooyi SOM ’80
will be the chief executive officer of $33 billion food and beverage
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
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.