Podcast·3 min read

Indra Nooyi on Leading with Respect

Sep 28, 2022

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As CEO, Indra Nooyi led PepsiCo through its most important strategic pivots and navigated the company through two financial crises. But during her time there, her male colleagues continued to disrespect her. To the point where she threatened to walk out. Today, Indra tells us how she demanded respect in the workplace and how it impacted her career.

In this episode, Indra shares:

  • How her teachers described her – and why she worked against it her whole life

  • The way she drew hard lines to be respected in the workplace

  • How her cultural upbringing influenced why she never asked for a raise

  • Why not everyone should aspire to be the CEO – and why it’s okay

  • What you’ll learn from her class on MasterClass, Leading with Purpose

On Reaching Her Breaking Point

Indra: These guys continue to put me down in meetings, but the CEO who's observing it has not asked them to cut it. And about three or four meetings, I put up with it. One day I walked into the CEO's office and said, I am gonna go present at the president's meeting today where you're gonna be present. But after that, I'm leaving. I'm walking out. Because I put up with this bad behavior now for three or four meetings and I can't take it. But I went one step further. I said, I also don't want anything from you. I'm not looking for severance. I'm not looking for a bonus. I want nothing. I am just leaving. I'm walking out of the office tomorrow. And I was so upfront about it, so clear. The meeting was delayed several hours. He huddled with a bunch of people. He knew exactly who they were and the next morning, every one of the offenders were in my office telling me how awesome I was and how they're gonna be really constructive. And my boss just came to me and said, it's all taken care of. Let's get back to business. It never happened again. 

On Why Being CEO isn’t for Everyone - and Why It's OK
Indra: You have to figure out what job you want versus what you can pull off in your personal life. It worries me when people say I wanna rise to the top, but I need my 12 hours of sleep. I need my time off. I need my personal time. I am married, but my husband is not supportive of my job and I have no family. Hell, that doesn't bode well for you. Rising up a corporation. It's a pitment, it's very, very difficult, but not everybody should want to rise up a corporation. There are so many jobs with great purpose that can evoke that can touch people in different ways. Don't always aspire to move up a corporate ladder.

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