Former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi speaks to Prannoy Roy about her upcoming book My Life In Full. She speaks about biases she fights, the influence of “Bengali culture” in her life and breaking the corporate glass ceiling.
Here’s the full transcript of the interview:
NDTV: Indra Nooyi, thank you very, very much for being with us, and agreeing to discuss your new book, My Life In Full. I promise you Indra Nooyi, I seldom use this old phrase, but it is absolutely true about this book. It is honestly unputdownable. I learned a lot, enjoyed the stories and anecdotes, loved your intrinsically Indian DNA, and living in America to boot. And so much more, which we shall go into. I have actually so much to discuss, so many questions to ask you. So, Indra, do you have the next six hours or seven hours to spare?
Indra Nooyi: Prannoy, for you as much time as you want. You’re the only person I grant this privilege to.
NDTV: I’m struck by, Indra, three factors that you have faced in your life. First, the fight against bias. Bias against being a woman, which is underlying in this book and the bias against diversity, being from India. Second, your fight to balance your work life and your home family life, and the third, the fight to prove, that in the world of business, performance with purpose is not only possible, but complementary and essential. So, these are three big ones. There many other fights, but would you say these three are the big fights of your life?
Indra Nooyi: I would say the second and third for sure are big fights. The first one I’d say, everybody faces bias at some point in their life. I’d say that in my case, as long as you performed, as long as you were competent, it was a manageable and addressable bias. At the margin, it is always going to be there. But I wouldn’t view that as a major conflict that I had to face. Number two and number three absolutely agree.
NDTV: Right. But I do feel you’re being a bit modest there, because you did have quite a lot of; you entered a world, you started out with a bias against women. In fact, you write that at the time that you joined Pepsi, every single CEO of the top 500 biggest companies in America was male. I mean can we just start with some clear instances where you faced some form of bias against you as a woman. Because understanding that as you say, you can fight against it, so others who listen to you will find these instances an inspiration and a guide to women who are going through similar biases now, even in India actually, mainly in India.
Indra Nooyi: So, let me in fact take you back to when I was born and when I was growing up in India. It came back to me that I was born 8 years after independence. So, I was one of the early frame breakers, if you want to call it that, one of the early people who went to the IIMs. I was having a call with IIM Calcutta last week. I was the 11th batch…
NDTV: IIM Calcutta, I want to say that that made all the difference in your life. You owe Calcutta what you are.
Indra Nooyi: Absolutely true, it’s Calcutta. The Bengali culture. I love it. But I was the eleventh batch from IIM Calcutta, the 11th group of students to go through it, and one of the handful of women who graduated from IIM Calcutta. So, in so many ways, I was one of the new entrants into the world of business, into the world of professional education. And I was an anomaly, an oddity. At the same time, somebody to be respected, because people looked at me and said, if she could break through a male bastion, there should be something in her. So, I also got the respect and the support of certain people in power, because they viewed me as, hey if she could break through all of these barriers, she should be something and we ought to protect her. So, I was the beneficiary and the person who was challenged. That’s the first point. Once I crossed the oceans and came to the United States…
NDTV: Can I just interrupt there? A great supporter and a great influence was your grandfather and there are very emotional bits about that and of course your father, and we will come to your mother as well throughout your life. But your grandfather, you miss him a lot.
Indra Nooyi: Well, I tell you, the biggest breakthrough in my life was that my grandfather and my father basically said the girls are going to be treated on par with all the men, because they should be allowed to be educated, they should be allowed to dream, they should be allowed to fly. And I think that made all the difference in the world, because we were never held back because of our gender, my sister and I. We were treated on par and in fact encouraged and supported. And my mother in turn had the appropriate foot on the brake, but she also had the foot on the accelerator. So, I lucked out, from a family perspective.
NDTV: Yes, so you were saying, one was people saw that you’re doing this at a time when it was male dominated, that in itself was a kind of a breakthrough. Other significant things that helped you?
Indra Nooyi: You know the role of mentors. I could not have done it in those days and subsequently, because at every point in my life, even when I crossed the oceans and came to the United States, I was one of the very few women in corporate America in those days. Now the numbers are much, much higher. But you know, when I graduated from Yale School of Management, I think the class was about 25 or 30% women. And in consulting there were very few women, so at every point, I was sort of breaking the mould of who was being employed, who was rising to senior positions. But at every point in time, a male stepped up and said, I’m going to mentor this person, I’m going to support her. So, in a way, again winning the lottery, in its own way. People just leaned in and said, there is something about her we like, her work ethic, how she looks at issues, how she makes sure that she delivers on time with great quality, I’d like to be viewed as her supporter and her mentor. And right through my life, from my time in India, all the way to the United States, to the final PepsiCo job that I did in corporate America, I’ve always had extraordinary mentors who stepped up to coach me, develop me, support me. And in turn I gave them my loyalty. It’s a two-way street.
NDTV: Yes, I must say that comes out in the book. The mentors that you had. Of course, you must have been exceptionally good and it was great for them to have somebody who worked so well and worked so hard. But they were so kind to you, so many of them, right from the beginning. I remember, you were queuing up, to get your visa, to go to America. And you had to queue up from 9 at night and get a token at 6 in the morning. And you had 2 bosses, one boss came to you late at night and gave you a soup or something. And the next boss came at 5 in the morning and gave you a cup of tea or coffee. Tell us about that, I mean, what wonderful people.
Indra Nooyi: In those days, going to the United States, getting a visa was very difficult. And you had to queue up outside the US Consulate in Chennai at 9:00pm in the night, so you could get a token in the morning, because only 50 interviews were granted every day. And so, you know, I lined up. I was the only woman in the line. And it surprised me that my two bosses at Mettur Beardsell, Norman Wade and SL Rao, came one after the other with either coffee and breakfast at 5:00 AM in the morning. I mean everybody else in the line was flabbergasted. Because, you know, what’s it about this woman that her bosses show up so kindly and offer this coffee and breakfast. So, I was incredibly surprised and touched. But it also showed that, even though I was not coming back to Mettur Beardsell, they felt proud that I was going to go do something big. And they felt they should support me and encourage me. So, I’m deeply grateful and in awe of what those two men did.
NDTV: Those two men and so many others in your life that really treated you as a daughter, encouraged you, mentored you. And then you obviously learnt from them, because you give it back to your own, when you became CEO, I do remember lots of things, but one particular instance where you wrote letters to all your staff, colleagues’ parents, thanking the parents for allowing their child or gifting their child to Pepsi and you got amazing, I think wonderful, emotional responses from the parents, right?
Indra Nooyi: Yes, I think, you know, just completing this conversation on the mentors, and how they supported the arc of my life, I think that mentors are wonderful provided you make sure that you give them the appropriate respect. One thing I would say to all the young women this and young people, look I had the lottery of luck, the lottery of life in terms of the kind of family I was born into. The one plea that I have for many families, support the girls in your family as much as you support the guys. Because the girls are hungry, they want to be educated. So, support them. Don’t have this discrimination. And I’ll say this to society overall, where families discriminate against the women, let’s lean in and make sure the girl child is also educated. Because education of the girl child is good for the family. And then coming now to your question or your comments Prannoy, I think that when you have people working for you, you’ve got to look at them as real assets, as people, people with emotions, people with families, people with joys and troubles that they carry with them. And you’ve got to look at them as a whole person, as opposed to a tool of the trade. Very often we look at them as a pair of hands. I just decided I was going to look at them more holistically and make sure that people around them, who supported them and allowed them to work tirelessly for PepsiCo, should be thanked too. So, that’s what prompted me to write letters to the parents and the spouses, of all my senior executives. I think I wrote about 400 letters in my time in PepsiCo.
NDTV: Wow, to the parents. And apparently one of the mothers, who went to a home eventually when she was a little infirm, the only thing she hung up in her room, a frame, one of your letters framed, thanking her for sending her child to Pepsi.
Indra Nooyi: Oh absolutely. And that was a very touching letter. But even more amusing or in a nice way, was that one of the senior Indian executives, Indian origin executives, wrote me saying that his father made 100 copies of the letter and pulled a chair in the basement of his apartment building. And every resident that came in, he gave them a copy of the letter, and said I want you to see what the Chairman of the company thinks of my son. To me, I felt great about it, because it’s a sense of pride. You want parents to be proud of their kids. And this is a positive report card.
NDTV: I always tell this to all the kids at our organisation and my own kids, all the good in you, it’s got nothing to do with you. It’s all your parents, so thank them.
Indra Nooyi: I agree. I completely agree.
NDTV: Going back to these biases, you know to counter and overcome the bias against being a woman, as you said, you could do it, you can still do it, but it’s still a major problem in India, and in many countries. But you also had to fight a bias against diversity, meaning that you were not white and you were living in a white man’s world. In fact, you write that when you joined Pepsi, the top 15 posts were all held by white males. But this was not new. You had faced it when you were trying to buy a house in a white area. There were comments about your clothes at Yale, when you went for job interviews. How did you handle all those tough situations? As you say, you can fight them. But just for all the kids, what would happen when you went to an interview? What would you wear, and what would people say?
Indra Nooyi: Today there are a lot of support structures for young people, in terms of how to dress, how to talk, how to present yourself. Again, let’s not forget the time that I was doing these interviews, and entering the work force. But I want to turn this around a bit Prannoy. I chose to come to the United States. I wasn’t fleeing persecution. I wasn’t fleeing anything. I chose to come to the United States. It’s a different country, different people. And clearly, I was a minority coming into the country. And I had to earn my place in the country. And while there might have been 5 or 10% of the people who were discriminatory, I would say I should define the country based on the other 90 or 95. And I would say, by and large, people have been wonderful, welcoming. And I’ll go so far as to say, the fact that an immigrant woman, a woman of colour, could have ascended to the CEO of one of the most iconic American companies, can only happen in the United States.
NDTV: Perhaps one of the biggest challenges that comes through in this book, is your story of the constant struggle to balance work life and family life. Your amazing, supportive and talented husband, and more I’ll talk about him later, because he’s actually a huge success in his own right. But he gave up so much. And your mother, who you just mentioned, who played such an important role in you, in pressing the accelerator and pressing the brakes. Tell us about that night, which you write about, when your mother said to you, please leave your crown in the garage. And the deeper meaning it had for you at that time in so many different levels.
Indra Nooyi: You know the story, which is well documented, when I came home after hearing that I was going to be President and be on the Board. This was way back in 2000. It was sort of something so big for me, and I was overwhelmed with emotion that I was going to be ascending to such an important position and on the Board of Directors of PepsiCo too at the same time. So, I rushed home to tell the news and I was late in the night, and my mother greeted me with, I don’t want to hear any news if you have it, just go get the milk. Being the dutiful daughter, I just went and got the milk, and I said wouldn’t you just let me just share my big news with you, because I told you I had big news? Instead, all that you tell me is to go get the milk. To which point she said, okay tell me the news. But after I told her, she said, it’s fine that you’re the President and on the Board of Directors, but those are all irrelevant. When you enter this house, you are the mother, the daughter, the wife, the daughter-in-law. Don’t forget your responsibilities. Do me a favour, leave your crown in the garage. Now, at that point I must say I was upset, I was upset. I will tell you why I was upset. Because I thought occasionally us women should be allowed to bring the crown into the house. I also felt that, had this been a man he would have been celebrated for the crown. At that point I was upset. But subsequently I had been thinking about it a lot and saying to myself, you know I think both husband and wife should leave their crowns in the garage. And when you come home, you’re the mum and dad, or the daughter and son, or your daughter-in-law or son-in-law, whatever it is. And I think at home, we’ve got to be playing the roles that we should be playing, not trying to confuse the roles that we should be playing. And basically, what my mother was saying to me, the deeper meaning was, if you want to have kids that grow up to be productive citizens, if you want to maintain your marriage, if you want to make sure that you take care of the elders that you are responsible for, I have a huge multi-generational responsibility deep in me, she was saying you’ve got to leave the crown in the garage. Because if you come home, and think all of them work for you, you’re going to lose the ball. And you know there are times I may slip into that role, but I don’t think I’ve ever brought the crown into the house and tried to lord over people.
NDTV: Wonderful lesson. You talk about your hard work. I mean, not talk about it, because it’s so evident, your hard work. But you also had a huge fun side to you. You love cricket, you’re a fan of the Yankees, the Yale baseball team. And you were in a band at school, and you played the guitar, you sang songs. Your group by the way was called Logarithms, which was the same name as a friend of mine, Chittaranjan Bakshi at school with me, had a band with exactly the same name, Logarithms. Talk about coincidences. But that was an important part of your life, right? Life, music, sports?
Indra Nooyi: At my core, I was a fun person. In fact, when my sister was incredibly smart, and getting all the academic honours, and having some fun, I was doing well in school, but definitely not getting the academic honours. I was much more focused on, what can I get involved in, what kind of non-academic pursuits can I go after? How can I do things for society? How can I start a cricket team? How can I climb trees and fall down and break my hand? I mean I did everything that you wouldn’t expect from a woman. But you know what, my parents never stopped me. When I played cricket with my brother and his friends, they were like go have fun, go play cricket with the boys, in the home, in the yard at home. So, I loved all this stuff. And playing the guitar, as long as you still do well in school, you can play the guitar, you can play in a band. And as long as all rehearsals are at our house, not at somebody else’s house, you can play in a band. So it was always within a framework, within a frame. But you had freedom within the frame.
NDTV: Yes, yes, right, I also read that when you were in America, you loved still music, you loved music on the flight to America. When you went to Connecticut, was it?
Indra Nooyi: So, when I first got on the plane, I was seated in economy, because those days that’s all we could afford. And the person sitting next to me, or I think it was more in the lounge, the economy lounge in those days, he asked me what I was going to do in the US. I told him I was going to Yale University in Connecticut. I was very phonetic, and spelling it out, and I was proud that I got it right. He pulled me aside and he said look, I want to explain something to you. Connecticut is not called Connecticut, it is Connecticut. And that’s how it’s pronounced. He made me repeat it a few times, and I have to tell you, he didn’t have to do that. He did it in a way that didn’t sound insulting. It sounded like a helpful person trying to help me land in the US in the right way. So, again I think interesting help from somebody.
NDTV: When you talk about hard work I mean,, as I said, it’s a terrible example you set. How you handle the work-home balance. You worked incredibly hard. I give you an example from your book. You often got to work at 6:00am. You took a flight to Washington at 10:00am, had meetings in Washington, flew back and got back to your office at 4:00pm, carried on working in office till 10:00pm at night. And often you came home late, and you’d put on your night clothes, just to show your daughters that you were not going back to work. You would chat with them and then go up to your desk, home desk and work even then. This is not a good example.
Indra Nooyi: Well, you know in crunch times, when you are in the middle of a major transaction or a major FTC approval process, you are going to have to give it your all. At the same time, you can’t forget your familial responsibilities. So, I think in crunch time I did 3 jobs at the same time and tried to be a small, decent mother. Not a big role as a mother, but a tiny role as a mother. In those days my kids missed me. But at that time, I had to get the Quaker Oats deal done. So, the company needed my undivided attention. I think one of the big benefits I have, again talk about luck, I didn’t need much sleep. And I had the ability to speed read and retain a lot. So, speed reading, having good memory, not having much sleep, great.
NDTV: Amazing. But what does come through strongly in your book also, and a lot of people have already told me about this before I read the book, is about your husband Raj. He is brilliant and successful in his own right. And how much he supported you. In fact you call him a prince of a man. Of course neither of you can actually figure out who proposed to who, but we’ll leave that for later. And you also call him your lifeboat. Can you tell us some of the instances of your husband Raj’s support for you, that still today amazes you?
Indra Nooyi: You know he is a very, very special man. As somebody once said to me, God I wish we all could have a Raj in our life, which is true. And it’s not just Raj, I have the luck that I was marrying into a family that also supported me. My entire in-law family are bigger supporters of me than anybody in my own family. The way they call and say, how is your stress level? Are you okay? We’re all there to support you. They all read the internet articles about me and celebrate it. So, I think I was lucky to be married into an extraordinary family, educated, supportive. Never once questioning my decisions or saying, why don’t you quit your job and stay home. So, that’s a lucky one. Now let me talk about Raj himself. I think that in my life I made great decisions, but this one was a damn good one. And I’m glad I met Raj. I’m glad he’s still in my life. You know the guy is so smart that I can actually discuss an issue with him, a business issue if I’m stuck somewhere. And he has a way of demystifying it, and helping me think through it, albeit a little mathematically. He tends to write equations about everything and I wish he would just talk about it. But you know what, those equations stick in my head, so I’m very grateful to him for that. The other thing is, he can take the emotion out of a discussion and make it more of a discussion of the issues, which is unbelievable. And he always believed our marriage was a partnership and it had to be equal. And there are times that he would have to do more, and there were other times that I would have to do more. I would say that on balance he’s always done a little bit more. But he’s been the rock, the biggest support. There’s no question that I am a better person for him.
NDTV: But even with all that support from Raj, your husband, you do write that for any woman, you actually say this, any woman who wants to get to the very top, frankly focusing on family life, a lot, is a near impossibility, you write. Women really need extended family support. And so many members of your family and Raj’s family used to fly out, to live with you and to look after your children. So, the Indian joint family, where there is inter-generational support in households, all under one roof, is a major advantage to men and women business leaders, right?
Indra Nooyi: I think multi-generational living, especially with an aging population, is critically important. So, I’m all for multi-generational living. But multi-generational living should not become a burden on a young family. And let me tell you what I am worried about. I think in my case the multi-generational living worked because people helped out. There were tensions, don’t get me wrong, because their model for bringing up the grandkids is different than our model for bringing up our kids. So, there’s a tension that’s inherent in that. Where it becomes a hassle is, the woman of the house goes out to work and comes back and is also expected to do all the housework and loses the power of the purse because her pay cheque is taken away and other people control the spending. I think that’s wrong. So, I think what one has to think about, and again it is a family choice decision, it is not for me to dictate how it should work. But I just think of it from the female perspective and say, women should have the power of the purse. They should have economic freedom. As my father said, I don’t ever want you girls is to put your hand out, and have to ask somebody for money. You should stand on your own two feet, and it’s very important that people recognise the contributions of women in the house and outside the house. On par with the men. Women should not be…
NDTV: And Raj’s father also told you, you write that Raj’s father told you, keep on working. Make sure you work and get to the top.
Indra Nooyi: Till he passed away he told me that. And you know what is very touching, Raj has a grand uncle who’s I think in his nineties. Even today he calls and says, ‘I hope everything is going well. I hope you’re keeping yourself busy, doing things. You have to give back to society.’ He reads all the internet articles that he can on me. I mean this man is extraordinary. That he does it from a little village in Karnataka is very touching.
NDTV: Very touching. And that’s inspiring. You know before, I want to go into the way you ran Pepsi and the big challenge of convincing people that it’s not just cold-hearted profits, you have performance with a purpose. But before I go into that, I want to go back quickly. And, give you a tough time now, about your music. Because you were great at music at school, college and every party you’d go to, they would ask you to sing a song. And I believe one of the songs they always asked you to sing was My Way. So, all of us just want you to sing a couple of lines for us from My Way.
Indra Nooyi: I want to be clear. I never sang My Way. It was Roger Enrico who sang My Way. Roger believed that…
NDTV: Okay, which one did you sing then?
Indra Nooyi: I was never asked to sing. When I was a kid, the family would make me sing. But I will tell you it was Roger Enrico who insisted on singing My Way and American Pie, 2 or 3 times in a karaoke party. But I have to tell you, I love music, I love singing, we have a lot of karaoke parties. But I give up performing a long, long, long, long time ago Prannoy, because…
NDTV: Oh no, no, no. You’re not getting away with it that easy. One line of some song, one line of some song of the earlier generation.
Indra Nooyi: You know all the songs we used to sing, as part of the Logarithms. We would sing songs like Besame Mucho or Green Sleeves or Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, something like that.
NDTV: Super. Of course, you were asked to sing all the time. That was super. Well, I think we will have another show, half hour with you just singing. That’s later.
Indra Nooyi: Oh yes, that’s right. So, everybody can just tune out. Absolutely.
NDTV: Life in Pepsi, and how you changed the ethos at Pepsi, and frankly, how you changed a lot of things, was a game changer for many people afterwards. That Pepsi, that the world of business is not just a cold, hard-hearted calculation of profits. You believed in PWP, Performance With Purpose. And as you worked on several things, I’ll just give a couple of examples. To cut down water that was used in making Pepsi, from 2.5 gallons to 1.5. That is a huge saving of water for many people around the world. On the health front, you got a whole lot of people together and you managed to cut back calories by 6 trillion in 5 years or something, when the target was just one and half trillion. You did 6 trillion. And so much more on both the health and environment front. And at the same time and this is what’s important, with the purpose you still made sure that Pepsi still gave excellent returns to your shareholders. I think you mention that Pepsi’s returns in your first 6 years was 28% compared to minus 1.25% by the stock market. But I do feel that this Performance With Purpose has been a game changer, as I said, because so many CEOs in America, like Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai and many, many, more, are now admired because they believe in running a business with both head and heart. When you first proposed it, it was greeted with alarm in some quarters, with some saying you are getting soft. And one, I think portfolio investor, asked you, who do you think you are, Mother Theresa? So, it was tough to change cold-heartedness to Performance With Purpose, was it?
Indra Nooyi: So, you know in my case I wasn’t trying to be soft or work on the hard numbers. That’s not what I was trying to do. All that I was trying to do is future proof the company. I wanted our company, PepsiCo, to be successful well into the future and not go to any trouble in societies or countries because of the business model we had. So, my articulation of Performance With Purpose was not about giving money we made, away for certain causes. It was, what if we change the way that we made money? What if we created a company where we cut the costs by doing the right things for society? And we did the right things for society so that society would give us a license to operate and we would be successful well into the future. The best example is water, what you talked about Prannoy. My point was, we had plants, Pepsi plants, Frito Lay plants all over the world and many of them were in water distressed areas. How can we justify using 2.5 litres of water to make a litre of Pepsi, when the town that we were located in was water distressed? And so, my simple point was that let us reduce the water usage drastically. And if we did that, towns would give us the license to operate. Nobody would shut us down and guess what, we would also save costs. The timing may be different because you first have to invest to reduce the water usage, and then you get the benefit. So, all that I wanted to do was, run the company for the duration of the company, by balancing the levels and duration of the returns. So, whether it was recycling of plastic, whether it was water usage, reducing our carbon footprint, thereby saving electricity costs, and making the company a place where everybody wants to come to work in PepsiCo, meant we could hire the best and the brightest, and then we could actually perform better as a company. I think if we articulated it as, here’s a different way to make money, people would never sign up to it, because it’s always stated in money terms. Performance With Purpose was a way to frame it, to engage people’s emotions, at the same time say performance and purpose are linked. If you don’t deliver performance, you can’t invest in purpose. And if you don’t deliver purpose, you can’t deliver performance. It was a virtuous circle. That’s the key message of what I was trying to do.
NDTV: Yes, and you might be being a bit modest about it, but it was quite revolutionary at the time. And you had also a few things which you said, that the way Pepsi should function. And once again in that, you use the word, we must cherish our colleagues, our staff. Cherish. And that became, oh gosh, you know, I mean that was also a game changer, but it made a huge difference.
Indra Nooyi: Look, at some point you’ve got to use words that you’re comfortable with. At some point, people might say, oh God, it sounds so woman. Yes, I’m a female CEO. It sounds like me. So, to me, the whole Nourish, Replenish Cherish, the three planks of purpose, were words that I was comfortable with and that’s what I felt. So, I was trying to be authentic, and say, this is how I want to run the company as long as I’m CEO. And you know takes a while for people to get used to this language. But that’s okay, we’re going to talk to you, we’re going to make it part of your lexicon. But this is the language we’re going to use to communicate what we’re doing. You know, any time you engage on anything that is disruptive or game changing, there are going to be a lot of sceptics. People don’t like the language or the programme or the investments or the initiatives. But if you believe in what you’re doing and if you have a true north as to where you’re going, I think people will fall in line. And if they don’t, you’ve got to get them out of the system.
NDTV: And you know you do write that, and I think a lot of this was written before the pandemic, you do write that you believe in remote working. Like, a lot of companies, I think including Google, say you can work from anywhere you want, anywhere in the world, you know, remotely. And come in you want, don’t come in. So, remote working is something you think could be important for families?
Indra Nooyi: I think the one good thing that came out of the pandemic was technology developed so fast that we can now have remote working possible and flexible work hours has also become sort of acceptable. What we have to be very, very careful about, the soft skills are developed when people come and work in teams and see each other and can assess each other. We should not lose that ability to come together. Second, we shouldn’t create two classes of citizens, where those that come to work are looked at and treated differently than those that don’t. In which case, once again the men will go to work and the women will stay home. So, I think we are in the early stages of figuring out how this is all going to work. How a hybrid structure is going to work. But I’m very optimistic that technology is going to help us enable remote working and therefore young family builders can actually manage home and work in a much more seamless way that they could in the past.
NDTV: Absolutely. You know I have another about 200 questions. But you don’t have 6 hours. So, I am going to ask the last two questions. You know when you, they made a portrait of you at the Smithsonian. And you had four things put behind you, which exemplify your life. Tell us about those 4 pictures or photographs or objects. And how they really were the 4 key anchors of your life?
Indra Nooyi: It was an unusual portrait because nobody had ever put up a portrait with stuff that impacted their lives. Most of the portraits in the portrait gallery were just a portrait of the individual. But pretty much an abstract background or flowers or something. In my case I made a deliberate choice to include four items that made a huge difference to my life. The first is a photograph of my parents. It was actually painted. They took a photograph and painted from it, because my parents brought me into the world. The second photograph, very important, is my husband and two daughters. They are reason I am who I am and I thought it was very important that they be in the portrait. The third is a cap, baseball cap with the Yale School of Management logo on it.
NDTV: A baseball cap?
Indra Nooyi: A baseball cap, and I’ll talk about that. It was a double message. One is the fact that the Yale School of Management launched me into this big career and taught me a lot of things about the intersection of society and business. And baseball, because I love baseball and I love the Yankees. I would have loved to put a Yankees, but it didn’t work. And the last two is the PepsiCo annual report with the words Performance With Purpose, because this is not about just PepsiCo. I think all companies, all people, should live under this motto of Performance With Purpose. Whatever you do in your life. So, these four items together define me.
NDTV: No, I did see a tattoo on your forehead saying IIM Calcutta.
Indra Nooyi: That’s in my heart. That’s in my heart.
NDTV: That’s in your heart, Okay, last question. What next? Like your over-nineties uncle-in-law says, I hope you’re not going to relax. And I know you’re not. That’s not possible. You’re going to set an even worse example and work even harder. So, what what’s next for Indra Nooyi?
Indra Nooyi: You know first is, coming out of the book, I do want to work on how do we bring this care trifecta to life. How do we work on paid leave, job flexibility and a care infrastructure to allow young family builders to have children and still engage in paid work? You know Prannoy, I have been reading a lot about the Anganwadi system in India. I think it was a great idea when it was implemented. As with all great ideas it goes through a drift. And I think there’s an opportunity to create Anganwadi 4.0. Not 1.0 or 2.0, I’m talking about 4.0. A whole new system which provides support for young families, especially families in rural India, where the woman needs to work, needs to go out in the field. She shouldn’t have to take her child to the fields. Nurses shouldn’t have to worry about their kids. Teachers, professions which are predominantly women. They have very little support structures. I would love to find a coalition of like-minded leaders in India and figure out how we give the Anganwadi system a big boost in one small region to test it out, and then figure out how to scale it. And at the same time work with corporate sectors in India, to see how to implement onsite or near site childcare. I just saw a fantastic programme by TATA consumer products on supporting young families. Brilliant. How do we scale that across India? So, that’s one thing. I’d like to do that in the U.S. too. Work with brilliant minds like Anne-Marie Slaughter and Melinda Gates and Meera Mani at the Hewlett Foundation. They’re all doing amazing work.
NDTV: Come to India, then do America.
Indra Nooyi: You know I’ve got to do both. And so, I think, how do you work on this care trifecta is something I want to spend my time and money on. In fact, the proceeds of the book are going to go into a foundation that’s going to work on all of this. The second is my Board positions, whether it’s Amazon, which is a consequential company whose Board I sit on. I also sit on the Board of Philips, Memorial Sloan Kettering. I still teach up at the West Point Military Academy. All of these are extremely fulfilling. And I intend to spend more time on all of these Board assignments and give it my all. So, I’m not going to sit idle at all. And finally, I do want to spend time with Raj and the kids. I do want to spend time with Raj and the kids.
NDTV: Lovely, lovely. That you deserve. You’re an inspiration, not just to women, but to men, in the way you function, the way you were a game changer in business. And in various areas of life. I really only touched the tip of the iceberg of this really wonderful book. And it is great to know so much about your amazing life. Thank you , thank you for spending this time. I did want six hours though, but you know…
Indra Nooyi: When I come to India next, we will sit down and have a meal. Good to see you Prannoy, thank you for having me on your show.
NDTV: Thank you.