In 2001, Indra Nooyi was named president of PepsiCo.
Five years later, she would be promoted to CEO, and in 2007 she would become chairman of the company as well.
But the night she came home after being named to president, she wrote on LinkedIn, her parents happened to be visiting.
Here’s Nooyi describing that night:
“I’ll never forget coming home after being named President of PepsiCo back in 2001. My mother was visiting at the time.
“‘I’ve got great news for you,’ I shouted. She replied, ‘It can wait. We need you to go out and get some milk.’
“So I go out and get milk. And when I come back, I’m hopping mad. I say, ‘I had great news for you. I’ve just been named President of PepsiCo. And all you want me to do is go out and get milk.’
“Then she says, ‘Let me explain something to you. You may be President of PepsiCo. But when you step into this house, you’re a wife and mother first. Nobody can take that place. So leave that crown in the garage.'”
Nooyi was sharing this story as part of a list of lessons she’s learned after 10 years of running the $US166 billion company.
“No matter who we are, or what we do, nobody can take our place in our families,” Nooyi wrote. “Now, I’ll admit, I’ve found it’s rarely possible to be the kind of mother, wife, employee, and person you want to be — all at the same time. Often, you need to make a choice, and that’s especially true if you want to be CEO. There’s no way around it.”
Nooyi has spoken before of this balance. At Tina Brown’s Women in the World Summit last year, reported Business Insider’s Shana Lebowitz, she said waiting for her grown children to come home for visits gave her a new perspective on the years her kids spent waiting for her to come home from work. She aims to be more present with her grandchildren.
“And yet, for all the painful choices my husband and I have had to make, I also know our family has been incredibly fortunate. Many families in this country don’t have extended family to help with childcare or jobs that give them the financial means to pay for additional support.”
“This is a challenge we need to take on urgently. We need to come together, as corporations and as a society to support workers who are caring for young children, ageing parents, or both.”
In the fall, she shared, PepsiCo will begin offering on-site childcare for employees at the company’s headquarters, and “near-site” childcare for employees at its satellite office in Texas.
She wrote: “That’s just part of our larger effort to make sure we’re supporting our working caregivers in every way we can and empowering people to build not just a career, but a life.”
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