Indra Nooyi

The advice given by the mother of one of the most successful women of our time was to leave her crown in the garage when she comes home and to be humble to those around her.

By Sonal Nain, 18 Oct 2021

Former PepsiCo Chairperson and CEO Indra Nooyi is an inspiring, powerful, and influential woman who has taught us how to break the proverbial glass ceiling while reminding us that our life is always a work in progress.

‘My Life in Full: Work, Family and Our Future’, her memoir, reflects on her personal and professional journey. From Chennai to moving to the United States and becoming the CEO of PepsiCo, Ms. Nooyi inspired us to pursue our dreams without fear while remaining grounded.

Ms Nooyi stated that “Society expected her mother to have one foot on the brake. But she always had another foot on the accelerator.” Her mother lived vicariously through her daughters. “She would struggle with acquiring those societal requirements while also allowing us to do whatever we wanted”, said Ms. Nooyi while talking to Mojo Story’s Barkha Dutt.

When Ms Nooyi came home from the most important professional development of her life, she was about to tell her family that she would be the next President of PepsiCo. Before she could make the announcement, her mother scolded her like a child because she had forgotten to bring the milk.

Indra slammed the milk on the kitchen counter and agitatedly broke her big news to her mother. “Leave the crown in the garage”, her mother said to her. “When you are at home, you are a mother, daughter, wife, and many other roles.” Her mother advised her to be humble when she returns home because many people rely on her, and she shouldn’t treat them as if they are her employees.

Ms Nooyi agrees with her mother’s advice, saying that we should all get to the point where both husbands and wives don’t wear the crown to the house and recognize that they are in a completely different environment than work, an environment where they can de-stress and be themselves.

“Previously, men would often bring the crown to the house, and we would allow it. However, times have changed, and both men and women are now working and bringing a paycheck.”

Talking about women and their role in a professional environment, she added that women and paid work are critical to the country’s happiness and progress. Ms. Nooyi stated that a high-quality National Childcare System that is both affordable and widely available is needed to help women with flexible work who also have families. She called for multigenerational involvement, recalling when intergenerational responsibility and community trust were used to support women and make their work easier.

Talking about her experiences in India and the United States, she said, “I am proud of my birthplace because it shaped who I am.” She added that “only in the United States can an Indian immigrant woman achieve the pinnacle of success. It is still the world’s most open and welcoming country, with a great meritocracy.” She appreciates the opportunities provided by the United States as well as the foundations provided by India that kept her humble throughout her journey.