I would cry in my office and then put my make up on – Indra Nooyi


Image source: Wikimedia

Tears are often linked to weakness. But when someone who has been named as ‘world’s most powerful woman’ admits to crying, the perception of people has to change.

In a recent interview by Fortune Magazine, ex CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi has made various honest revelations about her professional journey with Nina Easton. She admitted bumping into numerous critics every day in corporate life and there have been instances when she would tell her Secretary not to let anyone in for 15 minutes, cry and put her make up on.

Indra is writing a book that is due to be published in 2021. The book is focused on challenges about work life balance faced by umpteen women every day.

Citing multiple responsibilities and expectations from a woman, she talks of solutions that communities and families need to devise to simplify lives of working women.

Solution to ‘work life balance’ challenge

Having spoken to women from across the globe, Indra says she has realized juggling between responsibilities at work and home is an universal issue. In another interview last year with Asia Society, Indra Nooyi mentioned about how this has been catered for employees at PepsiCo where they have day care centers next to the office, open until 7pm. But this is something only large companies can manage to do for their employees.

The issue is still unsolved for many women who work in middle sized and small companies. And thus she talks of importing what she calls an ‘asian model’ in the modern societies. Looking back at her own life as a young parent, she recalls calling family members for 3 months one by one, until her daughters reached the stage of being able to speak and tell about things. Until then they were always with a nanny who was constantly supervised by a family member.

It is a ‘win-win’ situation for both ageing parents and young child to have each other’s company giving an opportunity to working parents to inculcate values and wisdom in their child and at the same time having someone trustworthy around their kid.

Unconscious bias against women

Being a colored woman herself, Indra Nooyi admits witnessing unconscious bias based on race and gender.

Bias is extremely detrimental to a woman’s confidence and adversely affects her competencies. It is high time that we stop talking about it and do something to address it.

While men have been blamed always for this, Indra points out that onus is not just on them. Women can also play their part in repressing unconscious bias by bringing in ‘sisterhood’ in work culture.

She admitted to binge watching 94 episodes of ‘Sex and the city’ and  being impressed by the sisterhood it portrays. For the characters support each other and don’t judge.

‘Leave your crown in the garage’

Based on the advise the Indra Nooyi got from her mother, she has written in her LinkedIn article how important it is to leave behind your corporate titles when you enter home.

When she wanted to convey the news of becoming President of PepsiCo to her mom, she had to wait for her to listen as her mom wanted her to get the milk before listening to any news from her daughter. As she kept the milk in front of her mother and then complained of her lack of attention to such an important news, her mom remarked, she could be anyone at work, but at home she is first a wife, mother and daughter. Thus she needs to ‘leave that crown in the garage’ to ensure a happy married life at home.

The journey ahead

Being a CEO of a Fortune 500 company for 12 years, Indra Nooyi has several pieces of golden advice to offer to ambitious youth aspiring to grow up the corporate ladder. Being popular for her transparent and inclusive behavior at PepsiCo, she is known for writing letters to 300,000 employees of the company every other week sharing updates from her personal and professional life.

Admitting how far she is from diplomacy, Indra confirmed in one of her interviews that she doesn’t find herself fit to enter politics. Aiming to make lives of various working better across the globe, she plans to travel and reach as many people as she can, post her retirement.


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