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Indra Nooyi on being a business leader and mother

She discussed her autobiography, ‘My Life In Full’, with TV Narendran during a virtual session at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet

Debraj Mitra | Published 02.02.22, 07:57 AM

One of the most powerful business leaders in the world.

A mother trying to instil, at times in vain, old-school Indian values in her daughter in the US.

Indra Nooyi, who was chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo from 2006 to 2019, discussed her autobiography, My Life In Full, with T.V. Narendran, CEO and managing director of Tata Steel during a virtual session at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet on January 30. 

Both speakers had a Kolkata connect — they did their management courses from IIM, Calcutta. Excerpts from the conversation

Women in the workplace

Nooyi batted for organisational support for working women.

“Women have become really hungry to study and do well. If we don’t provide support structures for women in the workforce, the country is sub-optimising its resources. Yet, we somehow don’t give these extraordinary women the support to continue working. They have so much stress when they come home. It just doesn’t work,” she said.

Narendran asked if she had a message for working couples.

“The most important thing for young family builders is what companies can do for them in terms of childcare support. With Covid, some flexibility is possible. But the government has to think through — how to encourage or rebuild the anganwadi system. So that essential workers can keep coming to work... I think we have to rethink the future of work with families at the centre of it. It will reduce the stress on young couples,” said Nooyi.

Struggling mother

Quoting from the book, which talks about “typical Indian parents who have one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake”, Narendran asked how Nooyi was as a parent. Nooyi said she tried that with her first daughter.

“But I am not sure it was very successful. So, I got a lot of pushback. I had trouble with kids wearing tank tops. I reacted badly...,” she said.

A trip to Delhi did a lot to change her. “Later, when I came to Delhi, I realised my parenting style is truly stuck in the past. Kids today are much more liberated. I realised the problem was that I needed to educate myself. I am still trying to evolve a new model. Where the kids can talk to me freely. I am learning every day,” she said.

Last updated on 02.02.22, 12:48 PM
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