The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PepsiCo Inc., Indra Nooyi is finally stepping down and handing over to one of her lieutenants.
Ms. Nooyi, 62 years old, who led Pepsi for 12 years, will leave as CEO on October 3 and hand over to Ramon Laguarta, a 22-year PepsiCo veteran who was promoted to president last year.
Nooyi, who will leave as Chairman of the company in 2019, said in a statement: “Today is a day of mixed emotions for me. This company has been my life for nearly a quarter century and part of my heart will always remain here. But I am proud of all we’ve done to position PepsiCo for success.”
Board members praised Ms. Nooyi’s tenure and highlighted Mr. Laguarta’s experience in international markets. “The board is confident that he is the right person to usher in this next chapter of growth,” said PepsiCo director Ian Cook, who is CEO of Colgate-Palmolive Co.
Mr. Laguarta, 54, a native of Barcelona, rose through the ranks and previously ran PepsiCo’s Europe business. “We’ll continue to be a company that reacts in a proactive way on the forefront of all these trends, be it consumers moving to healthier spaces or… e-commerce and this new way of shopping, or geo-politics,” Mr. Laguarta said in an interview.
Ms. Nooyi who grew up in Chennai, India, came to the U.S. in 1978 on a scholarship to the Yale School of Management, and worked at several companies before joining PepsiCo in 1994 as head of strategy. She was chief financial officer and president before she was named chief executive.
After becoming CEO in 2006, Ms. Nooyi said she wanted to make PepsiCo “a defining corporation of the 21st century.” “Nobody’s going to remember you for delivering earnings to stockholders; they will remember you for the lasting impact you made on society,’’ she said in a 2009 speech.
She led a push into healthier, more nutritious products, arguing that a more diverse product portfolio would be good for business, too. Obesity had become a global crisis. Consumers were reading food labels more carefully. U.S. per capita consumption of soda, long a growth engine, had begun to decline.
She bought a 50% stake in U.S. hummus maker Sabra in 2008 and formed a joint venture with Saudi Arabian dairy giant Almarai in 2009, the same year PepsiCo bought Brazilian coconut water company Amacoco. In 2010, she oversaw the $5.4 billion acquisition of Russian dairy and fruit-juice maker Wimm-Bill-Dann.
Ms. Nooyi ramped up R&D spending and dispatched executives to Iceland to research seaweed, India to study Ayurvedic medicine and Africa and the Amazon jungle to learn about ancient grains, berries and plants.
PepsiCo’s revenue increased 81% during her tenure to $63.5 billion last year.