PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi is stepping down from the post, handing over the reins after 12 years, the food and beverages firm announced on Aug. 5. Company president Ramon Laguarta will take over the role in October.
Nooyi, who was born in Chennai, became the first foreign-born CEO of Pepsi and the first woman to lead the giant business, when she rose to the position in 2006. She is credited with driving the company through challenging times, and overseeing its expansion to add healthier food and drinks to its portfolio of chips and aerated beverages.
Nooyi, 62, will step down on Oct. 3 after spending 24 years with the company. She will remain Chairman until early 2019 to ensure a smooth and seamless transition, the company said in a statement. Laguarta, 54, has also been elected to the company’s Board of Directors, effective Oct. 3.
“I’ve had a wonderful time being CEO, but at some point you sit back and say, look, it’s a responsible move to effect an orderly transition and to have somebody else take over the leadership of this company,” she said in an interview, Bloomberg reported.
“Being a CEO requires strong legs and I feel like I ran two legs of a relay race and I want somebody else with nice strong legs and sharp eyes to come and lead this company.”
During her tenure as the CEO, Nooyi has boosted sales of the Mountain Dew, Cheetos and Gatorade maker to $63.5 billion, up 80 percent from when she started, Reuters reported. The company’s share price has risen 78 percent in the same period, it added.
Nooyi said the announcement of her stepping down from the post was an occasion of “mixed emotions,” since the company has been her life for nearly a quarter century.
“Growing up in India, I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to lead such an extraordinary company. Guided by our philosophy of Performance with Purpose—delivering sustained performance while making more nutritious products, limiting our environmental footprint and lifting up all the communities we serve—we’ve made a more meaningful impact in people’s lives than I ever dreamed possible,” she said in a statement.
The IIM-Calcutta and Yale University alumnus joined New York-based Pepsi in 1994 as head of corporate strategy, and became the company’s Chief Financial Officer in 2001.
“As CEO, she grew revenue more than 80 percent, outperforming our peers and adding a new billion-dollar brand almost every other year. And shareholders have benefited: $1,000 invested in PepsiCo in 2006 is worth more than two-and-a-half times that amount today,” Presiding Director Ian Cook said in a statement, speaking on behalf of PepsiCo’s Board of Directors.
Laguarta, who has spent 22 years at PepsiCo, will become the sixth CEO in the firm’s 53-year history. Since September 2017, the Barcelona native has served as President of PepsiCo, overseeing global operations, corporate strategy, public policy and government affairs.