Indra Nooyi will step down as PepsiCo’s CEO after leading the US food and beverage giant for 12 years, the company announced today, with its Indian-origin top executive exuding confidence that the “best days are yet to come” for the soda and snacks firm.
Nooyi, 62, will leave the company on October 3 after 24 years with the PepsiCo. She will remain as chairman until early 2019.
President Ramon Laguarta was elected by the board of directors to succeed her. Laguarta was also elected to the board.
“Growing up in India, I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to lead such an extraordinary company,” Nooyi, one of the world’s most powerful and influential business leaders, said in a statement.
“I’m incredibly proud of all we’ve done over the past 12 years to advance the interests of our stakeholders in the communities we serve. What I admire about our global team is an incredible drive to compete – to be the best, to remain the best,” the Chennai-born executive said on Twitter.
“Today is a day of mixed emotions for me. @PepsiCo has been my life for 24 years & part of my heart will always remain here. I’m proud of what we’ve done & excited for the future. I believe PepsiCo’s best days are yet to come,” she tweeted.
“Guided by our philosophy of Performance with Purpose — delivering sustained performance while making more nutritious products, limiting our environmental footprint and lifting up all the communities we serve — we’ve made a more meaningful impact in people’s lives than I ever dreamed possible,” she said.
“PepsiCo today is in a strong position for continued growth with its brightest days still ahead,” she added.
It was not immediately clear why Nooyi decided to step down.
Laguarta, a 22-year veteran of the company, has been president since September, overseeing global operations, corporate strategy, public policy and government affairs. Prior to that, Laguarta served in leadership positions in the European and sub-Saharan Africa divisions.
In 2017, Nooyi was placed at No 2 on the US Fortune’s list of ‘The Most Powerful Women in Business’ outside the US. She also topped the list of highest-paid female CEOs.
With Nooyi’s departure, the rest of PepsiCo’s senior leadership team will remain unchanged, the company said.
PepsiCo’s premarket stock price declined slightly after the announcement, CNBC reported.
Nooyi’s exit is the latest in a series of high-profile CEO departures in the food and beverage industry, as big brands lose shelf space to smaller, trendier entrants and established players scramble for growth.
Rival Coca-Cola Co. And Oreo maker Mondelez International Inc. Switched leaders last year while Campbell Soup Co. Changed its CEO earlier this year. Still, Nooyi’s tenure was twice as long as the average S&P 500 CEO’s tenure, which was five years at the end of 2017, according to Equilar.
Nooyi joins several other prominent women CEOs, including Campbell Soup’s Denise Morrison, Hewlett Packard’s Meg Whitman and Mondelez’s Irene Rosenfeld, who have left their roles recently.
Just 25 women currently run an S&P 500 company, according to research group Catalyst, a level that hasn’t changed much in the past decade even though women are half of the U.S. Workforce.