Women’s Social Media Success Stories – PepsiCo and Indra Nooyi

This is the 2nd installment of Women’s Social Media Success Stories.

To read the first installment regarding Kraft Foods and its prominent leader Ms. Irene Rosenfeld, please click here.

To fully understand the selection process, please click here.


Indra NooyiPepsiCo – Indra Nooyi


Twitter Stats - PepsiCo










Performance with Purpose – It’s a Long Way From Sugar Water

PepsiCo is a fascinating company.  It has certainly come a long way since Caleb Bradham sold the first glass of “Brad’s Drink” from the counter of his soda fountain in 1893.  Steve Jobs famously asked John Sculley, the president of PepsiCo from 1977 to 1983: “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to change the world?”  Interesting, isn’t it, how we classify companies by their products?

But PepsiCo is so much more.

Today, PepsiCo is an iconic business leader, with immense profits and worldwide fame.  But that’s still only half the story.

Importantly, its present-day success — and more significantly, its heart and soul — can be attributed to the able and concerned leadership of its current CEO, Indra Nooyi.  If PepsiCo is a fascinating company, Indra Nooyi is amazing.

How do you measure a corporation and its top management?  Profit and Loss?  Well, of course.  But the true measure of a corporation is more about its worldview.  It’s more about the contribution it makes to society and to the human family.  In this respect alone, Indra Nooyi is deserving of the highest praise.

Since becoming PepsiCo’s CEO in 2006, she has made a huge impact on her company, its employees, their families and the countless lives she has touched worldwide.  Her credo, and PepsiCo’s core value system, is called “Performance with Purpose.” It’s how she runs the Company.  To use her words of explanation:  “All corporations operate from a license with society… we owe society a duty of care.”

If the definition of Social Media is the ability to reach out to your customers and potential customers; the desire to engage with them; and the commitment to solve their problems — then PepsiCo under Nooyi is the epitome of Social Media.

A New Definition of Profit

As businesspeople, we are all familiar with the profitability equation:  Revenue – Costs = Profits.

Under Indra Nooyi’s enlightened leadership, PepsiCo’s profitability equation is fundamentally different:  The Performance with Purpose equation is:

Revenue – Costs – Costs to Society = Profits.

Imagine a company that actually cares, intrinsically — not just for its customers and the revenue they bring in the door, but for the human condition generally.  Imagine a company where the employee’s do not have to check their consciences at the door when they come to work.  Isn’t this exactly what we all wish for the American economy?  An economy that’s stable and growing, but with a heart?

A Social Media Leader – Par Excellence.

According to Forbes, in 2010, “Nooyi nudged a $20 million slice of the company’s $616-million-a-year ad budget away from traditional to social media spends.  A worldwide campaign, Pepsi Refresh, lets you submit grant proposals to a website, then encourages online voters to choose the winners (amounts: $5,000 to $250,000). ‘It blurs the line between philanthropy and advertising,’ says Nooyi, whose total annual compensation package last year was $10.6 million. Refresh also allocates $1.3 million each month for a U.S. project, such as the recent ‘Do Good For the Gulf,’ which offers stipends to build a shelter for animals whose owners lost their homes to the oil spill and to provide mental health services and job training. ‘Brands have to speak to millenniums; young people want to make a difference,” she says.

So true.  It is the highest and best use of Social Media, in my opinion.


Before I make Indra Nooyi sound like the Mother Theresa of American Business, it’s important to point out that she is very accomplished by whatever traditional yardsticks you care to use.  In addition to her duties as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo Incorporated, here are just a few of her other accomplishments as reported on Wikipedia:

  • She is a Successor Fellow of the Yale Corporation.
  • She serves as a member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, International Rescue Committee, Catalyst and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
  • She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Eisenhower Fellowships, and has served as Chairperson of the U.S.-India Business Council.
  • In 2009, Nooyi was considered one of “The Top-Gun CEOs” by Brendan Wood International, an advisory agency.
  • In 2010 she was named #1 on Fortune‘s list of the “50 Most Powerful Women” and #6 on Forbes’ list of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women”.
  • She joined PepsiCo in 1994 and was named president and CFO in 2001. Nooyi has directed the company’s global strategy for more than a decade and led PepsiCo’s restructuring, including the 1997 divestiture of its restaurants into Tricon, now known as Yum! Brands.
  • She also took the lead in the acquisition of Tropicana in 1998,and merger with Quaker Oats Company, which also brought Gatorade to PepsiCo.
  • According to BusinessWeek, since she started as CFO in 2000, the company’s annual revenues have risen 72%, while net profit more than doubled, to $5.6 billion in 2006.
  • Nooyi was named on Wall Street Journal’s list of 50 women to watch in 2007 and 2008, and was listed among Time’s 100 Most Influential People in The World in 2007 and 2008.
  • Forbes named her the #3 most powerful woman in 2008.
  • Fortune ranked her the #1 most powerful woman in business in 2009 and 2010.
  • On the 7th of October 2010 Forbes magazine ranked her the 6th most powerful woman in the world.
  • At its 2009 commencement, Barnard College awarded Nooyi the Barnard Medal of Honor, the College’s highest award.
  • Forbes magazine ranked Nooyi fourth on the 2008 and 2009 list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.
  • Fortune magazine has named Nooyi number one on its annual ranking of Most Powerful Women in business for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
  • In 2008, Nooyi was named one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report.
  • In 2007, she was chosen as a recipient of the Padma Bhushan award by the Government of India.
  • In 2008, she was elected to the Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Indra Nooyi is a truly remarkable CEO and a humanitarian of the first order.  She sets a marvelous example to businessmen and women everywhere.  She epitomizes all that is good about Social Media, and she disproves the myth, once and for all, that profits are driven by cold realities in the marketplace.  A wife and mother of two daughters, she stands with great power, and simple grace, at the top of American business.  She is a woman we can all be proud of, and a leader we should all attempt to emulate.


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Michael R.H. Stewart, President, Jericho Technology, Inc.

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About Michael R.H. Stewart
"Give me faith, freedom, resources, and a little time ... and I will make things happen that matter." Michael R.H. Stewart is a respected Internet executive with broad experience in all aspects of online business, with an emphasis given to social networking development, and company management. He has over 131,000 engaged Twitter followers. He enjoys 22 years of direct experience with corporate, entrepreneurial, governmental and non-profit clients, having advised them on all aspects of their online initiatives. Prior to his Internet career, he served as a Senior Vice President of AIG Marketing, doing business in 135 foreign countries as well as the United States. Stewart is an experienced public speaker and communicator, with worldwide experience; an expert on corporate branding; an accomplished writer, a creative thinker and problem solver.


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