Indra Nooyi, the cutting-edge and innovative leader has consistently been ranked among the world’s 100 most powerful women. Since the out-of-the-blue moment in 2006 when Steven Reinemund announced he was stepping down as the PepsiCo CEO and handing the role over to her, she has been a major inspiration for women across the world. Heading the iconic international food and beverage company for more than 12 years before stepping down from the position in late 2018, today she sits on the board of Amazon, Yale School of Management, World Economic Forum & The International Cricket Council. 

“It was a brutal time to be the CEO, transforming the company, dealing with activist investors, dealing with the financial crisis, dealing with all kinds of attacks on our categories. It was a tough 12 years.”

5 Crucial Business Lessons To Learn From The Trailblazer, Indra Nooyi

Adding her own rebellious touch to the corporate world to writing 400 letters to her global senior executive’s parents and in-laws stating how proud she was of their achievements, she infused the world of business with her own innovative decisions. While she’s turning 65 this 28th October, here’s to 5 major lessons that aspiring women entrepreneurs and leaders can learn!

1. Develop A Clear Vision

“Whether you work in operations, sales, R&D, or any of our functions, always have a clear, compelling vision for what you want to accomplish.”

Nooyi has been very clear when it comes to having a clear vision. Having a vision provides a sense of purpose and direction for the business. Your specific vision will let you define your short and long-term goals & guide the decisions you take all along the way. When women lack a clear vision in business, they perish. It’s true for most of them, no matter what role they have in the company. The simplest step to developing a clear vision would be to go boldly after your biggest goals. Always remember that you can’t underprice yourself, no matter what!

2. You Need To Develop Both Short-Term & Long-Term Goals

Developing short-term and the long-term goals would not only let you hit your short-term targets but would also make your strategies sustainable for the long haul- a way that balances the company’s level, duration of returns, a way that generates profit while also making a difference. You will contradict Nooyi’s first business lesson of having a clear vision as soon as you overlook the short term goals. Failures, discouragement and rejection are normal when it comes to working towards these goals.  Sometimes, it may take too long to reap the benefits out of your long-term goals but that doesn’t mean you will give up. Always remember that the secret to success is to keep moving forward and having these goals in life would just make it a lot easier.

3. Develop An Attitude Of Being A Life-Long Student

Women in business should never get rid of the learning and exploring attitude. Talk to people, take the right courses, and go out into the real world. Citing references from her own life, Indra Nooyi clearly specifies that her third life lesson would be to keep learning. A few years back she even took a course on Big Data, but learning she says comes not only in the form of new courses (which are very important, considering the technological age we are living in) but also by getting out of the office and seeing things up close. These women would always seek new opportunities and discover the joy of growth in lifelong learning.

4. Finding Balance In Life Is Crucial

Being a CEO is indeed a full-time job and so is being a mother and a wife. And in the Indian context, sometimes being a daughter and a bahu are also full-time jobs. So, to expect women to do great in all spheres is literally crazy. There is no easy answer to this. Nooyi has clearly pointed out how significant it is to make sure you marry the right person. It makes all the difference in the world. 

“I married a good one. Forty years later, I can say he’s a keeper. Even today, my husband and I plan for six months at a time on where we are going to be, who’s going to do what and how we’re going to run a family.”

Striking a balance in life helps you lead a very happy and contented life. If you are well-balanced at home, you know you have it figured out at work too. It not only secures your mental peace but also lets you dream bigger. 

5. You Should Be Open To The Idea Of Working Flexibly

The nature of work will change with time. Work was devised from a time when women stayed home and men worked nine to five. Well, that’s not the way life is today. This generation is full of digital natives, therefore, use technology wisely. Indra Nooyi’s exceptional lesson for women would be to focus on the job they are currently doing. The higher the quality of one’s work, the fewer labels people tend to give. At the end of the day, work speaks for itself, whether you work a 9 to 5 job or use your own flexibility. 

With an impeccable ability to finely tune into the hearts and minds of people who work for her, Indra Nooyi knows well how to build a culture of trust and equanimity. Keeping these above business lessons in mind, let us know in the comments below how do you intend to incorporate these into your entrepreneurial journey!