PepsiCo promotes woman to CEO

Janet Babin Aug 14, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: If you could ask Indra Nooyi about her new job, I’m guessing she’d say it’s no big deal she’s a woman. And objectively it’s not. Except the new job is running Pepsico. By market capitalization, Pepsi’s the world’s biggest soda maker. And as of today by that same measure Pepsi’s the world’s largest company run by a woman. From North Carolina Public Radio, Janet Babin has the story.

JANET BABIN: Is your boss a man? Chances are you just answered yes. Only 10 women lead Fortune 500 companies. Indra Nooyi will become the 11th when she takes over at PepsiCo in October. She’s been climbing the ranks at Pepsi since 1994 and has been CFO for the past five years. Nooyi is respected by colleagues for being smart, funny, and very female.

Marketing firm CEO Mary Lou Quinlan saw her speak at an event sporting a feminine Indian sari. She hopes Nooyi will serve as a role model for a new generation:

MARY LOU QUINLAN: Women in business get weary of the “Oh, here comes a woman, let’s see if she proves herself or fails.” And in this case is a woman whom I’ve observed behave as a woman in business — not as a mini-man.

By mini-man she means women in power often feel they have to adopt the behavior, even sometimes the attire, of men to be viewed as successful.

That might be because women feel they have to behave like men to be accepted as leaders. Kara Helander is with Catalyst, a nonprofit research group. She says Catalyst’s recent studies show that people still carry subtle biases against the very things that might make women more successful:

KARA HELANDER: Leaders rated women as better at take-care behaviors — supporting and rewarding — but men better at take-charge behaviors — things like delegating upwards and problem-solving.

Outgoing PepsiCo CEO Steven Reinemund said he was leaving the job . . . . To spend more time with his family.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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