The Two Minute Bio: Indra K. Nooyi

Indra K. Nooyi is the president and chief financial officer of PepsiCo. Best known for its Pepsi soft drinks, the international powerhouse that Nooyi oversees is actually one of the world’s largest snack-food companies. It makes and sells dozens of other products, including Doritos-brand chips, the Tropicana juice line, and Quaker Oats cereals. Nooyi is one of the top female executives in the United States, and is also believed to be the highest-ranking woman of Indian heritage in corporate America.

Nooyi was born in Madras, India, in 1955, and was a bit of a rule breaker in her conservative, middle-class world as she grew up. In an era in India where it was considered unseemly for young women to exert themselves, she joined an all-girls’ cricket team. She even played guitar in an all-female rock band while studying at Madras Christian College. After earning her undergraduate degree in chemistry, physics, and math, she went on to enroll in the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta. At the time, it was one of just two schools in the country that offered a master’s in business administration degree, or M.B.A.

At PepsiCo, Nooyi has been the chief dealmaker for two of its most important acquisitions: she put together the $3.3 billion-dollar-deal for the purchase of the Tropicana orange-juice brand in 1998, and two years later was part of the team that secured Quaker Oats for $14 billion. That became one of the biggest food deals in corporate history, and added a huge range of cereals and snack-food products to the PepsiCo empire. She also helped acquire the edgy beverage maker SoBe for $337 million, and her deal beat the one submitted by Coca-Cola.

For her impressive dealmaking talents, Nooyi was promoted to the job of chief financial officer at PepsiCo in February of 2000. It made her the highest-ranking Indian-born woman among the ranks of corporate America. A year later, she was given the title of president as well, when her longtime colleague, Steven S. Reinemund, advanced to the position of board chair and chief executive officer. Reinemund had said he would only take the job only if Nooyi came onboard as his second in command. “‘I can’t do it unless I have you with me,'” she recalled him telling her, according to Business Week.

Upon taking over as president and chief financial officer in May of 2001, Nooyi worked to keep the company on track with her vision: “For any part of the day we will have a little snack for you,” she told Business Week in 2001. The company sold a dazzling range of snack foods and beverages, from Mountain Dew to Rice-a-Roni, from Captain Crunch cereal to Gatorade-brand sports drinks. It also owned the makers of Doritos-brand snacks and Aquafina bottled water.

Net Worth $144m

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