PepsiCo chief Nooyi wants a role in Washington

February 21st, 2008 - 2:57 pm ICT by admin  

New York, Feb 21 (IANS) Indra Nooyi, India-born chief of the global soft drinks and snacks giant PepsiCo, wants a role in the US government a few years later, she has told Fortune magazine in a cover story on her in its latest issue. “After PepsiCo, I do want to go to Washington,” she said when asked whether she had ever thought about a role in the government.

“I want to give back - to work for no money for four or five years,” added Nooyi, the Indian American named by Fortune as the world’s most powerful businesswoman in 2006 and 2007. Her compensation in 2006 at Pepsi was a whopping $7.1 million.

However, Nooyi, the 52-year-old PepsiCo chairperson and CEO, will not leave her company in a hurry.

“Not now,” she says firmly, “but after the next presidential term sounds like a possibility,” Fortune noted.

The US business magazine has quoted Henry Kissinger, the former Secretary of State who is Nooyi’s friend and consultant with PepsiCo, who predicts: “It is only a matter of time before she is plucked for a big Washington post, possibly a cabinet job.”

Fortune’s cover story on her bears the title “What Makes Pepsi Great?” with a kicker line: “An inside look at how Indra Nooyi has transformed an American business icon”.

The story reports that PepsiCo’s stock now hovers around $70 a share, up about 10 percent since she took over. Wall Street is happy to see that in the fourth quarter of 2007, the company’s revenue went up 17 percent to $12.3 billion and operating profits rose 9 percent to $1.7 billion.

The magazine notes that part of Nooyi’s strategy is to grow PepsiCo by mergers and acquisitions. Last year she spent $1.3 billion on acquisitions like Naked Juice, a California maker of soy drinks and organic juice.

She is also steering the company to be on the right side of public opinion by adding more “better for you” and “good for you” products to “fun for you” foods and drinks category.

Chennai-born Nooyi is able to take the company in a different direction because, among other things, her South Asian heritage gives her a wide-angle view on the world, Fortune story says.

The article also goes into allegations in India five years ago that traces of pesticide had been found in both Pepsi and Coke.

PepsiCo denied the claims and did scientific analysis to support its position. Though at that time, as president of the company it was not Nooyi’s direct responsibility, she now regrets not having acted differently.

“I was the face of India. I should have hopped on a plane right away and said, ‘Guys, I assure you, these products are the safest’,” she told Fortune.

A graduate of Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, she came to the US in 1978 to do her master’s degree at Yale School of Management.

After holding strategy positions at Motorola and ABB, she joined PepsiCo in 1994, taking over as CEO in October 2006.

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