New York, August 6 (Wall Street Journal): Chennai-born and educated, Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi, who was Chief Executive of PepsiCo for 12 years, will step down on October 3, after steering the maker of Mountain Dew, Gatorade and Doritos chips through a changing landscape, defeating an activist investor’s attempt to break up the company. The 62 year old pushed PepsiCo far beyond its cola roots, expanding into hummus, kombucha and other healthier products with mixed results.
PepsiCo’s revenue increased 81% during her tenure to $63.5 billion last year, but more recently executives have pledged to ramp up advertising as its core soda brands lost market share.
She will leave the CEO role on Oct 3. and the role of chairman early in 2019. Ramon Laguarta, a 22-year PepsiCo veteran who was promoted to president last year, will take over as CEO, the company said. When Mr. Laguarta was elevated to the No. 2 role last September, Ms. Nooyi said she intended to remain CEO “for the foreseeable future.”
Ms. Nooyi’s exit is the latest in a series of high-profile CEO departures in the food and beverage industry, as big brands lose shelf space to smaller, trendier entrants and established players scramble for growth.
Rival Coca-Cola Co. and Oreo maker Mondelez International Inc. switched leaders last year while Campbell Soup Co. changed its CEO earlier this year. Still, Ms. Nooyi’s tenure was twice as long as the average S&P 500 CEO’s tenure, which was five years at the end of 2017, according to Equilar.
Ms. Nooyi joins several other prominent women CEOs, including Campbell Soup’s Denise Morrison, Hewlett Packard’s Meg Whitman and Mondelez’s Irene Rosenfeld, who have left their roles recently. Just 25 women currently run an S&P 500 company, according to research group Catalyst, a level that hasn’t changed much in the past decade even though women are half of the U.S. workforce.
(The featured image at the top shows Indra Nooyi)