Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pepsi CEO, Indra Nooyi, Says Successful Career Women Can't Have it All. Do You Agree?

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Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi, an Indian-born American, is a business executive and the current Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo, and she's also a mother to two daughters, a wife of 34 years, and a daughter to her mom who lives in her home.

In a new interview with the owner of The Atlantic David Bradley, at the Aspen Ideas Festival this week, Indra Nooyi was asked how she plays the roles of mother and CEO and still have a perfect work-life balance, and she acknowledged that it is a real struggle.

Below is the transcript of that portion of the interview:

Related - CEO of General Motors asked how she combines her job with Motherhood.

Q. You came home one day as president of the company, just appointed, and your mom was not that impressed. Would you tell that story?

This is about 14 years ago. I was working in the office. I work very late, and we were in the middle of the Quaker Oats acquisition. And I got a call about 9:30 in the night from the existing chairman and CEO at that time. He said: Indra, we're going to announce you as president and put you on the board of directors

... I was overwhelmed, because look at my background and where I came from—to be president of an iconic American company and to be on the board of directors, I thought something special had happened to me. So rather than stay and work until midnight which I normally would've done because I had so much work to do, I decided to go home and share the good news with my family.

I got home about 10, got into the garage, and my mother was waiting at the top of the stairs. And I said:
"Mom, I've got great news for you."
She said: "Let the news wait. Can you go out and get some milk?"
I looked in the garage and it looked like my husband was home.
I said: "What time did he get home?"
She said:  "8 o'clock."
I said: Why didn't you ask him to buy the milk?"
Mum: "He's tired."
Me: Okay. We have a couple of help at home. Why didn't you ask them to get the milk?"
She said, "I forgot."

She said just get the milk. We need it for the morning. So like a dutiful daughter, I went out and got the milk and came back. I banged it on the counter and I said:

"I had great news for you. I've just been told that I'm going to be president on the Board of Directors. And all that you want me to do is go out and get the milk, what kind of a mom are you?"  

And she said to me:

"Let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you're the wife, you're the daughter, you're the daughter-in-law, and you’re the mother. You're all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don't bring it into the house. You know I've never seen that crown."

Q. What's your opinion about whether women can have it all?

I don't think women can have it all. I just don't think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all. My husband and I have been married for 34 years. And we have two daughters. And every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions.

And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we can be decent parents. But if you ask our daughters, I'm not sure they will say that I've been a good mom. I'm not sure. And I try all kinds of coping mechanisms.

My observation, David, is that the biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other. Total, complete conflict. When you have to have kids you have to build your career. Just as you're rising to middle management your kids need you because they're teenagers, they need you for the teenage years.

And that's the time your husband becomes a teenager too, so he needs you (laughing). They need you too. What do you do? And as you grow even more, your parents need you because they're aging. So we're screwed. We have no... We cannot have it all.

The person who hurts the most through this whole thing is your spouse. There's no question about it.

Raj always says to me,’Your list is PepsiCo, PepsiCo, PepsiCo, our two kids, your mom, and then at the bottom of the list is me.


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