October 02, 2014
Indra Nooyi at UGA
Posted by Usha Rodrigues

In an exciting day for the University of Georgia, PepsiCo's CEO Indra Nooyi spoke on campus yesterday.  Her remarks were titled "The Role of the Corporation in the Modern Age," and she spoke to our business and law students about Pepsi's "Performance with Purpose" initiative.  She drew a sharp contrast between two visions of corporate social responsibility.  The first, dominant in the 90s when she joined Pepsi, focused on "what we do with the money we make" (corporate philanthropy, volunteering at local organizations).  The second type of corporate social responsibility focuses on "how we make our money," and has led Pepsi towards acquisitions like Tropicana and Quaker Oats, to diversifying their offerings with more nutritious foods, and to working towards water conservation in its manufacturing around the globe. Of course, there are limits to diversification: the public seems to be moving away from fruit juices. And Nooyi stressed that Quaker Oat's Gatorade was for athletes, not "people sitting on the couch watching athletes." 

One student asked about the NFL domestic violence controversy, and she said she's said publicly all she would about that.  But then she said that they were a corporate partner and held them to high ethical standards, and they were waiting to see the results of the Mueller investigation.

Asked for advice about becoming a CEO, Nooyi said this (I'm paraphrasing) "Don't go in thinking you want to be a CEO--that guarantees you won't ever become one.  If you have an office with two windows, don't be thinking about how to get one with three.  Instead, be brilliant at the job you're doing.  Ask for the hard jobs.  You might think you want the easy jobs, but you don't get noticed if you do an easy job well."

Interestingly, Nooyi said she had never asked for a promotion, but instead had always been recognized for doing a good job and tapped for the next level.  The standard advice to women in the corporate world used to be to ask for raises and promotions, like men do.  But recent studies suggest there is a social cost to women who do negotiate

All in all, a great day for UGA.  It's not every day the world's 13th most powerful woman visits campus.

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