A little girl named Indra Nooyi, with two cute plaits, sat staring at the buckets of water in front of her. It was early morning and she was very sleepy, but she knew that she had to follow the ritual to manage the water problems that plagued her home as well as the other homes in the city. Coming from a humble background, she had a lot of dreams about her future but little did she know that she would become one of the most influential women in the world!
Born on 28th October 1955, Indra Nooyi’s goal was to completely immerse herself in studies. She belonged to a Tamil Brahmin family and was born in Chennai, a state in India that focused primarily on education over everything else.
As we all know, it is quite difficult for a woman, especially a woman from a different country to establish herself in an alien atmosphere. In an industry dominated by men, Indra has made a strong foothold and is the highest ranking Indian woman in America.
But, as history has repeated itself so many times, Indra also went through her share of struggles while climbing the ladder of success.
We recognize and identify so many other leaders, business tycoons and celebrities who ascended from rags to riches, but very few people know Indra Nooyi – the woman behind the steadily increasing profits of PepsiCo.
Born in a household that gave utmost importance to education, Indra Nooyi found herself immersed in studies constantly. She also reminisces about how her grandfather, Narayan Sharma, a district judge, goaded children to study as much as they could.
Indra Nooyi states that she only had two choices – either to kill herself or rank among the top three in class! So, Indra obviously had a lot to strive for at such a tender age. She also admits that there has not been a single day she did not work hard. Surely, her story makes you realize that there is no substitute for hard work.
Waking up to the smell of roasted coffee beans at the crack of dawn was common for Indra Nooyi. Her mother, Shantha Krishnamurthy, was also instrumental to Indra’s success as she made sure that her daughters, Indra and Chandrika, were well educated.
Indra Nooyi recalls that it wasn’t all fun sometimes because if she scored 95 marks in Geography or didn’t score 100 in Math, her mother would cry!
After gaining a proper education in Holy Angels Convent in Madras (now called Chennai), Indra Nooyi joined the Madras Christian College. As a girl with varied interests, she also participated in a rock band but thanks to her grandfather’s strict imposition, she had to concentrate mainly on her education.
Indra Nooyi was constantly compared to her sister, Chandrika, who excelled in her studies. Indra was actually considered as a mediocre student but she eventually proved everyone wrong after she earned an undergraduate degree in Math, Chemistry and Physics! Good Lord! She makes education sound so easy, doesn’t she?
Later, she enrolled into the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) to pursue her Masters in Business Administration. At that time, IIM was one of the only two schools that offered MBA courses in India.
Filled with glowing dreams and hopes for her future, Indra joined Tootal, a UK based textile company. Though the company was founded in UK, it had a strong holding in India.