As a born analyst, Indra clearly articulates the terms of success. One of her main rules is: “Find what you are able to do best, and hone that skill as best you can. Then the work will seek you, not you. Exclusive competence in any issue adds value to the employee. When faced with a problem that matches your profile, people will automatically think of you as the only person who can solve it for them."
Indra practices what he preaches. At the beginning of the year, the 63-year-old businesswoman, who left the post of CEO of PepsiCo last fall, was still handing in business, and Amazon, the largest player in the e-commerce market, was already impatiently stamping at her door. By the end of February, she took a chair there on the board of directors, entered the audit committee. “I am good at breaking down solutions to complex problems into simple steps,” says Indra, where her professional strength is. - I have always liked to study, conduct research, understand the small mechanisms of large processes. It doesn't matter what my position is, whether I am president or CEO, at such moments I become a student again."
Even Indra's volunteer project is of national importance. Former classmate, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, has asked for help in developing an economic development strategy for the state in which she has lived with her family for many years. Nooyi spends this research in his free time, without receiving a cent for it. “I felt it was time to pay my debt to a country that had done so much for me,” she says.
Good girl riot
Indra Krishnamurti was born in Madras to a middle-class family. My father worked in a bank, the upbringing of Indra and her sister Chandrika was mainly carried out by a housewife mother. An uneducated woman came up with a curious way to bring up healthy ambitions in girls, to teach them to set high goals. “She asked us to think about what we would do if we were the president of India, prime minister or minister,” Indra recalls. - The politicians we portrayed changed every day. For dinner, each of us had to prepare and present a political program, and my mother decided who she would vote for."
As a teenager, Indra was carried away by something unheard of for India in the 70s. She played guitar in a female rock band performing American hits. People gathered from all over Madras to see with their own eyes the horror of emancipation. On the days of concerts, the girls were accompanied everywhere by a detachment of brothers and cousins, ready to return every stone thrown at them with interest. In addition, the girl played for the amateur women's cricket team. Due to the abundance of extraneous hobbies, grades at the Christian College of Madras were average. Indra did not fail, but she did not shine either.
Her grandfather, a former judge, helped to guide her on the right path. “If he gave an order, and I did it badly, at the wrong time or not to the end, my grandfather would not allow me to explain anything,” says Nooyi. - He made me write 200 times on a piece of paper "I shouldn't look for excuses for myself." Later I more than once mentally thanked him for having hammered this phrase into my head."
After graduating from college with degrees in chemistry, physics and mathematics, Indra applied to the Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata - one of only two in the country where an MBA could be obtained.
Mom was happy when her daughter became a master. In the traditional view of that time, this increased Indra's chances of grabbing the first-class groom. “When I was growing up, there were three things required of an Indian girl,” says Indra. - Respect elders, get a good education and find a husband by the age of 18-20. Every Indian mother, especially in the conservative south, believed that only after marriage and the creation of a family, a daughter can do whatever she pleases. I had no problems with the first two points, but I wanted more to work than to get married”(read also:“How to find a husband: the most unusual advice from women's magazines of the 50s”).
After working for a British textile company, Indra moved to a brand manager position at the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary. There, a young employee was immediately assigned an almost impossible mission to familiarize Indian women with the new pads. “The problem was that in India it is forbidden to mention personal care products in the media and outdoor advertisements. Menstruation is still a taboo topic,”explains Indra, who had to bypass schools and colleges, telling the girls about the pads in her own words. She appreciated the experience, but came to the conclusion that the world of business is somewhat more complicated than she thought and requires more expertise.
When Indra told her parents that she wanted to go to study in America, there was no expected protest. As it turned out later, they simply did not believe that their daughter would be accepted for a scholarship to Yale University. There were only ten places for girls at the Faculty of Management - according to the number of beds in a women's dormitory. And an Indian student could not live without a scholarship, because in 1978 it was allowed to export $ 500 per person from India to America for his entire life.
“In connection with my enrollment, a family council met,” Indra recalls. - To send an unmarried girl alone to America meant to deprive her of any hope of finding a husband in her homeland. In the end, they came up with a compromise: it seems that at the request of relatives and friends of the family, all the Indians who moved to the United States from Madras looked after me. Every weekend someone came to Yale to make sure I didn't meet guys, drink, or smoke. I was a terrible nerd and I didn't do any of that. You can say that I wasted my student years."
In 1980, Indra received her Yale diploma and still got married. She gave her hand and heart to Raj K. Nooyi, the same “botanist” with three higher educations. Ms Nooyi still believes that her professional achievements pale in comparison with the development of a family strategy that allowed both spouses to pursue a career. With the advent of a daughter, the task became much more complicated. The pregnancy was difficult, with many unpleasant complications. It took about eight years before the couple decided on their second child.
Indra often repeats that at this stage in the development of society, a woman cannot fully combine her career and family, and those who assert the opposite are deceiving either themselves or those around them. “The timing of having children is also crucial in a career,” she says. - You leave business school and, along with your course, start moving up the hierarchical pyramid. We missed two or three years - fell behind, lost their place in the queue. As you climb to the top, there are fewer competitors, but the load on the rest increases. If you are a mom, you are busy full time. If you want to excel in your profession, you are full-time. In a leadership position, the number of full-time tasks is multiplied by three. By this time, the parents have grown old and need care. And throughout the journey, you must pay attention to your husband. Now explainhow you can be successful in everything without sacrificing any of the above. My daughters love me, but ask them if I was a good mother and I'm not sure they will answer you."
A mother and a number of other relatives were invited from India - a "support system", as Mrs. Nooyi calls them. Still, attempts to balance her career interests with those of her family forced her to change jobs more often than a resume would be useful. Before PepsiCo, she stayed in one place for a maximum of four years, until another shift in Raj's professional biography forced her to go hunting for a different schedule or location. How exciting the product was offered to promote it became a secondary issue. Indra's ability to study and analyze any information allowed her to understand even the intricacies of the production of industrial equipment and the construction of power plants.
Joined Motorol and led the planning department at AseBrown Boveri. Inc. created such a reputation for Indra that the CEOs of General Electric and PepsiCo almost got into a fight, luring her to him. “The new position required moving to Connecticut,” said Indra. “My husband quit a great job in Chicago, saying he didn't want to hold back my growth. He has already achieved a lot with AmSoft, but he could have gone much further if we had stayed in Chicago. Raj is just gold, a wonderful person with an inexhaustible supply of patience. I would not be able to live with a wife like me "(read also:" Tatiana Bakalchuk: "My husband and I are a real dream team" ").
On my own terms
When Indra took over PepsiCo's strategy department, the eldest daughter, Pryta, was about 9 years old, and the youngest, Tara, 9 months old. “They grew up in my office,” says Indra. “I told the management:“If I can't go home early to spend time with the girls, then they will come to my work - play, do their homework, eat, sleep. Don't you like the kids running down the halls? Okay, look for someone else to replace me. If you want me, that's the price for you. " If the children were sick, I went home every two or three hours to measure the temperature and give medicine. They could call me at any time with any questions. Sometimes I interrupted a meeting somewhere in Singapore to discuss with Tara if she could play the console."
Still, Indra was haunted by a sense of guilt. “Once the youngest daughter, going to bed, left me a letter in which she begged me to spend more time at home,” says the businesswoman. “I keep it as a reminder of what I lost. Regret is too serious a word for my choice. Probably, there would be more of them if I gave up what I love and became a housewife. But my heart ached for my daughters many times. When I decided to replace the old office table, the eldest chided: "How could you throw out the table under which I slept as a child?" Wow, childhood memories, right?"
The most implacable domestic opposition to Indra's career was her mother - the one who trained her as prime minister in her childhood. Thanks to the elderly lady, Nooyi will never forget the day she was appointed CEO of PepsiCo. “I got home at about ten in the evening,” says Indra. - I usually came back later, but I couldn't wait to share the joy with my family. Mom met me at the stairs leading out of the garage. I said, "I have great news," and she replied, "They will wait for your news. Go for milk, we're out of it. " I couldn't believe my ears. There was a husband at home, helpers came during the day, couldn't one of them go to get milk? But Indians don't argue with my parents, so I went to the store, bought the damned milk and brought it to my mother, saying: “I was appointed CEO, and you just need me to buy groceries. What kind of mother are you? " Mom said: “Outside, you can be the chairman of anything three times, but as soon as you step over the threshold of the house, you are a wife, mother, daughter and daughter-in-law. Nobody else can take these places. So leave your damn crown in the garage and never bring it into the house."
The fight for the health of the nation
Indra led PepsiCo for about 7 years longer than the average male executive, and increased sales 80%. The company's portfolio was expanded with the addition of Tropican juice and cereal producer Quaker Oats, and its fast food restaurants sprang from the crowd and formed a separate successful project. Overcoming the resistance of her male colleagues and investors, who learned from childhood that useful cannot be tasty, Indra divided the products into three groups: fun for you, better for you, good for you. During her reign, the first, most harmful, category was reduced, and the second and third gained momentum thanks to the popularization of healthy lifestyle among young people. “It’s not the level of profit that makes the defining company in the market, but the global goal,” says Nooyi. "Such as improving the nation and turning the company into a place where people want to work."
Another important rule of Indra is that "think like your consumer." With 26,000 employees worldwide, she personally visited the stores every week, watched how the goods were packed and positioned on the shelves, photographed, and then gave a bloody briefing with slides to the design and marketing departments.
Indra is guided by two principles in relation to employees: always thank them for their good work and never lie to them. She got into the habit of not only giving out money prizes to those who distinguished themselves, but also writing letters of thanks to themselves, their spouses and parents. “It may seem like a small thing,” Indra says. “But practice shows that people are ready to go to the ends of the world for a leader who values them. Honesty is also a show of respect. It cannot be said that everything is good in the company, when something is bad, it is necessary to give a true picture of what is happening, inform about the options for solving the problem. The image of the leader is also important. I was terribly worried when accepting the post, but my worries are my own business, I have no right to pour them out on employees. In their direction, I must radiate confidence, optimism, broadcast an idea,that together we can and will cope with everything."
Indra admits that she left the position because she was tired. “It was like I ran two laps of the relay in a row,” she says. "Then let the one with fresher legs run." However, she is determined to continue the struggle for better working conditions for women, which she began as CEO. According to Indra, the fear of condemnation, vanity and the authors of vigorous manuals from the series "How to do everything and not go crazy" make women lie about the achieved balance between family and professional life. Telling how easy and simple they manage to combine everything, many business women and officials create the illusion that the problem does not exist or that it can be solved by the woman herself. In fact, Nooyi argues, a woman should not try to embrace the immensity. “Society is interested in us both as mothers of the next generations and as high-class professionals,she says. “It means that his mentality and laws must be reformed in such a way that a woman not only has the opportunity to earn a living, but also has time to live.”
Photo: Getty Images
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