PepsiCo said on Monday Indra Nooyi would step down as its longtime chief executive officer, handing over the reins to company veteran Ramon Laguarta, who has vast worldwide experience spanning several continents.
Indeed, her India background and her gender animated both her rise and her profile in an American corporate world where female CEOs account for only about five per cent of the Fortune500 companies.
"Nooyi will step down on October 3rd after 24 years with the company, the last 12 as CEO", the company said in a statement. She will hand over her responsibilities to company veteran Ramon Laguarta.
"It concerns me in that we can actually count how many there are, as opposed to saying there are hundreds", she told Fortune today in an interview. More recently, she was a supporter of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign, and confessed after her defeat in the election that she found herself having to "answer a lot of questions, from my daughters, from my employees - they were all in mourning". She characterised PepsiCo's product range as "fun for you" (Pepsi, Lays, Cheetos); "better for you" (baked Lays, Diet Pepsi etc) and "good for you" (Quaker Oats and Tropicana). I'm proud of what we've done & excited for the future. He previously served as CEO of the Europe Sub-Saharan Africa region.
Nooyi will continue as chairman of the board until early 2019.
Laguarta has served the company for last 22 years and was overseeing global operations, corporate strategy, public policy and government affairs.
PepsiCo said it has not yet entered into any compensation arrangements with Nooyi or Laguarta with respect to changes in their job roles.
She was promoted to CEO in 2006, not long before the mortgage crisis-fueled Great Recession.
As she ponders her next chapter, Nooyi said she'll possibly take a vacation, in addition to watching the New York Yankees baseball team, and, she quipped, "listen to some music, take a walk in the woods". She was also chief architect of PepsiCo's vision of Performance with objective.
Born in the city of Madras, now Chennai, in the south of India, Ms Nooyi, 62, has credited her family with instilling her with ambition.
Nooyi came to the United States in 1978 to attend the Yale School of Management on a scholarship and worked at PepsiCo for 12 years prior to being tapped to lead the company.
Just 25 women now run an S&P 500 company, according to research group Catalyst, a level that has not changed much in the past decade even though women are half of the United States workforce.