Indra Nooyi SOM ’80 — the former chief executive officer and current chairman of PepsiCo Inc. who is also the School of Management’s most generous alumni donor — is one of several candidates under consideration for the president of the World Bank, according to a New York Times report last Tuesday.
Current World Bank president Jim Yong Kim announced earlier this month that he plans to leave his position on Feb. 1 — almost three years before the end of his second five-year term — to join Global Infrastructure Partners, a private infrastructure investment firm. U.S. treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin ’85, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Ivanka Trump — daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump — will oversee the process to choose Kim’s successor.
Nooyi, who stepped down as CEO of PepsiCo last August after 12 years in the position, has ranked among Forbes’ most powerful women. Nooyi previously served on Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum, a group of business elites formed in late 2016 to advise the president on economic issues, before the group disbanded in August 2017. When Nooyi departed her PepsiCo post, Ivanka Trump offered tribute to her on Twitter, describing Nooyi as a “mentor” and “inspiration.”
“Indra is recognized globally as a leader who understands major issues facing business and society,” School of Management Dean Ted Snyder wrote in an email to the News. “She’d be a great president of the World Bank.”
Nooyi was unable to be reached for comment. She has not yet commented publicly on whether or not she would accept the appointment if Trump were to offer her the position.
Shortly after Kim announced his early resignation from the presidency, Senior Associate Dean of Leadership Programs and professor of management Jeffrey Sonnenfeld told the News that he contacted eight top White House officials, including senior advisers and cabinet secretaries, to nominate Nooyi.
“I have known most of the past presidents of the World Bank and Indra’s credentials are in the shadows of none of them,” Sonnenfeld wrote in an email to the News.
In his nomination of Nooyi, Sonnenfeld highlighted several of Nooyi’s qualities as a leader and businesswoman. Specifically, he stressed her adept business acumen displayed by her success at PepsiCo, “courageous principled positions,” energy, lack of a “personal or commercial agenda,” collaborative abilities, relevant skills in global markets, problem-solving skills, diplomacy and her resilience as someone who entered the American business community as a young immigrant woman.
Sonnenfeld added that Nooyi is “heavily in demand for other leadership roles and board duties,” but acknowledged that she may want to take a break before “assuming her next heroic assignment.”
“Indra would be a celebrated choice that would be reassuring if not even welcomed by all — as a builder and a stabilizer,” Sonnenfeld said. “She would bring pride to the institution — globally and for the U.S. The only question might be whether the timing is ideal for her right now.”
Several of the officials Sonnenfeld contacted wrote back with “immediate enthusiastic responses,” he said.
As a School of Management alumna, Nooyi has served on the SOM Board of Advisors and was a member of the Yale Corporation. She helped fund the 2014 construction of Edward P. Evans Hall, SOM’s modern glass building on Whitney Avenue, and two years later became the SOM’s most generous graduate in terms of lifetime donations when she endowed the deanship of the School, which is now carries her name. She currently serves as co-chair of the Alumni Consultative Committee for the School of Management’s ongoing dean search.
Finance and management professor Andrew Metrick ’89, chair of the SOM dean search committee, said that his experiences working with Nooyi on the committee were “very positive,” and called her a “terrific choice” for World Bank president. He said he was impressed by the encapsulating leadership qualities, “level-headedness and wisdom” and deeply held values she displayed during the search, which he believes would translate to her work at the World Bank if selected.
Metrick added that Nooyi’s background adds another dynamic to her potential selection for the position, as World Bank presidents are usually American-born. Before she attended Yale to obtain her master’s degree in Public and Private Management, Nooyi was born and educated in India.
“This has never seemed all that fair to the rest of the world, and these days even less so,” Metrick said. “I think that having someone in the position who clearly has lived in more than one culture in their life and was born in a developing country would be very valuable.”
Several other candidates are under consideration, including David Malpass, the under secretary of the Treasury for international affairs and a former economic advisor to the Trump campaign, and Ray Washburne, the president of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation who served on Trump’s 2016 finance team. According to the Times, the selection process for World Bank president is “fluid,” with early candidates often falling off the radar or withdrawing themselves from consideration.
The World Bank was established in 1944.
Asha Prihar | firstname.lastname@example.org