On Wednesday night at Sydney’s International Convention Centre, aspiring and current leaders in business joined together to hear from one of the most successful CEO’s in the F&B industry, Indra Nooyi, former chair and CEO of PepsiCo.
Nothing was off limits on the night, as Nooyi spoke about how she came to lead one of the largest F&B companies in the world – and how her own mother almost ruined her chance.
Nooyi charmed the crowd with effortless charisma and engaging speech as comedian Adam Spencer posed questions to her ranging from her early life in Madras where an education in the sciences was considered non-negotiable, to her position now serving on the board of directors of Amazon.
Throughout the conversation, Nooyi explained her leading role in creating one of India’s first female cricketing teams at Madras Christian College where she opened the bowling (self appointed).
Also discussed was PepsiCo’s intensive leadership and succession programs, which involves identifying leaders across a range of different ages, and engineering situations where they are introduced to the board early in their careers.
Being part of this process herself, Nooyi recounted the story of how her mother almost ruined her chance of becoming the CEO.
She told the crowd when “taking time off to clean her house and fold the clothing”, then-president Steven Reinemund came to her house to tell her he was resigning and the position was hers.
After he left, she went to tell her mother the news only to be told: “Oh no, that won’t do. Get him on the phone and I’ll tell him he can’t just quit, he’ll listen to me.” Nooyi remarked that a mother’s support is all one ever really needs.
Imparting wisdom around challenging your workforce, being able to zoom in and out of issues, continuing and being confident in the face of adversity, and building a company that will be strong long after you leave were the key messages Nooyi imparted on attendees.
No doubt it was a night they’ll never forget.
Written by Patrick Dunn, Misfits Media