If I were to die today and people were to
write my epitaph, it would actually be a
pretty damn good one,” says PepsiCo
Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. “It would
say she lived wisely, agreeably and well.
And to me that is really how you’ve got to
live life. You’ve got to say, at every point in
your life, if you were to drop dead, would
your epitaph be something that you
could be proud of? Is your
legacy something that would
linger long after you?
Living wisely, agreeably and well, a state
championed by the British economist John
Maynard Keynes, among others, could double
as a mission statement for the 52-year-old
Nooyi, who 19 months ago took over the
world’s fourth-largest food and beverage
company. There, she has promoted the concept of “Performance with a Purpose” to rally
the company’s 180,000 employees.
“We have always been commercially a
very good company,” she says. “And we have
also been a very good company in the moral
sense. We are good to our employees. We give
back to our communities. We have been very
responsible in the way we have transformed
our portfolio. We try to leave as minimal an
impact on the environment as we can.
“The only reason I explicitly articulated
performance with purpose is I felt in today’s
environment, where the expectations of people for companies is increasing ... our people
want to work not just for a commercially good
company but also a morally good company.”
Can a company have a soul and still produce for shareholders? Pepsi’s stock is up more
than 10 percent since Nooyi took over. (It was
around $68 at press time.) With slower growth
domestically, she reorganized the company to
increase its global reach—its international
business now contributes 40 percent of its $39
billion total annual revenue.
“I think Indra is going to be a fantastic
CEO,” says CNBC’s Jim Cramer. “She is going
international, which is where the growth is,
and making it so PepsiCo will have some permanence because of the changes in terms of
making snacks that are good for you.”
The business community has taken notice.