A Learning CEO Can Power Through Tough Times: Indra Nooyi

A Learning CEO Can Power Through Tough Times: Indra Nooyi

by Prince Mathews Thomas | Dec 5, 2013

PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi talks to CNBC-TV18 about her personalised leadership style, why CEOs need to constantly renew skills and what India needs to do to attract foreign investors

In volatile times, one needs a learning CEO who surrounds herself with people who can help the company power through the tough times, said PepsiCo Chairperson and CEO Indra Nooyi in her Lessons in Leadership talk with CNBC-TV18, on November 12 in Delhi.“As a CEO, I am finding that I have to become a learning CEO. I have to go to school all the time because I am learning new skills that I need to run this company and I am realising that I am not equipped to just coast, I have to constantly renew my skills,” said the Indian-American who heads the world’s second largest food and beverage company. Nooyi added that top leaders today need to be agile, work through scarcity and be collaborative.
Many people of Indian origin are today rising to the top of the corporate ladder. Thus the moot issue, added Nooyi, is that “we should talk about is not just lessons in leadership or what the leaders need to do today but what can India do to bring those leaders back to India, so India itself can become an even more powerful economy going forward”.
Addressing the audience that included some of the brightest entrepreneurs from the country, the lady from Chennai said that multinational companies, when they come to India, are looking for “good infrastructure, welcoming investment climate and a taxation climate that is consistent”. “There should be an environment where education system produces good workers for companies to employ,” she says, adding that policies should be consistent irrespective of a change in government.
Nooyi gave hints of her personalised leadership style that included writing to parents of employees who are doing well. In the US, parents stop getting report cards once their children turn 18 and these letters, said Nooyi, “unleashed all kinds of emotions”.
The move itself was inspired by an incident when she was visiting her mother in Chennai. At home, all the visitors would go up to Nooyi’s mother, congratulating her for bringing up her daughter well.
PepsiCo has committed to investing $5.5 billion in India by 2020 and Nooyi said this indicated that India’s fundamentals are still strong. “It is great for India. It is going to provide jobs. It is going to provide tremendous investments, supply chain manufacturing, so all of us collectively should sit back and say ‘isn’t it great that two US-based multinationals, truly global companies, are showing their confidence in India?’”

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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