For these crisis times — Indra Nooyi's Five Point Something

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 04, 2011 Published on November 03, 2011

pepsico   -  Business Line

She came, she spoke and she gave the answers. Well, some anyway. PepsiCo's India-born Chairperson and CEO, Ms Indra Nooyi, had the tough job of speaking last at the three-day long AdAsia2011. But she was not at loss for words in her concluding keynote speech, she provided some solutions to dealing with uncertainty.

Dressed in orange and sporting a black jacket, Ms Nooyi, who flew into New Delhi from the Middle East in a private jet just for the keynote, stuck to the conference theme of dealing with uncertainty.

“We are living in a period of negative uncertainty,” she emphasised, “Creativity has given way to fear and risk has triumphed over ingenuity,” she said, grimly pointing to how companies today were grappling with a crisis of leadership, crisis of governorship and severe crisis of expectations.

“While I don't have all the answers, I do have five thoughts,” she said.

Five Lessons

Her first tip to corporations was: recognise and accept that we are in a new era of uncertainty, and adapt accordingly.

Second, lead for today as well as tomorrow at the same time. “It is companies with a clear long-term mission that will thrive. So, we have to work on two time scales at once,” she said.

Third, make big changes to big things. “Disruption is now our friend, not our enemy, she told the marketers.

“If you don't disrupt yourselves, the competition will,” was her warning.

Fourth, nurture talent. “In the time of volatility and uncertainty, the way we buy, broaden and bond our talent will be the key to whether we atrophy, just survive or thrive.”

And, her final piece of advice to heads of corporations was to be super-visible as a leader. “We need to communicate all the time.”.

Fizz in Emerging Markets

Ms Nooyi rued that the $60-billion PepsiCo, which employs 300,000, still had most of its business volumes and revenues coming from the developed world.

“I wish 60 per cent of our business was in emerging markets,” she said, saying she was working on getting to a 50:50 situation in the next five years — “50 per cent in emerging markets and 50 per cent in developed markets.”

“We are all evolving models, the book on this has not been written yet,” she concluded.

Published on November 03, 2011

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