First, a bit of history. To recognize the Baby Boom generation, Pepsi introduced its advertising campaign, “The Pepsi Generation” in 1963. That campaign was memorable Pepsi advertising.
And, it well reflects the tenure of Indra Nooyi, who is retiring this year after twelve years as CEO. And, yes, I’m aware that 12 is less than a generation, which is typically pegged at 20 years – but the fact that Ms. Nooyi has remained for well over twice as long as CEO average tenure should garner accolades. So here’s to Ms. Nooyi’s Pepsi Generation. To be honest, when Indra Nooyi took the helm at Pepsi, I was skeptical of her lasting ability. But, she has shown herself to be an able leader, taking the company through challenging times, from an activist investor’s attempt to break up the company (which includes Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Doritos as well as Pepsi), to pushing PepsiCo far beyond its cola roots and expanding into hummus, kombucha, and other “healthful” products. Those ventures weren’t always the most successful for the company, but a good leader always pushes the envelope, trying out new ideas in order to identify those which best resonate with its customer base. The most telling feature of her leadership ability is that time tested bottom line indicator: PepsiCo’s annual revenue increased 81 percent during her tenure. Few CEOs can make that claim. Kudos to Ms. Nooyi.