An Interaction of Nandan Nilekani with Indira Nooyi…


Today when I was going through the Economic Times; I happened to read the interview of Indira Nooyi, The Chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo by Nanadan Nilekani. I am always fascinated by Business and Money and people like Indira Nooyi really inspires people escpecially thos like me, as I feel. So, go through this fantastic and inspirational interview:

Uncorking the defining corporation of 21st century
THAT IT’S DIFFICULT TO READ A WOMAN’S MIND DIDN’T DAUNT THE FORBES BUSINESSMAN OF THE YEAR. HE GOT THE BEST BYTES FROM THE WORLD’S FOURTH MOST-POWERFUL WOMAN
Nandan Nilekani learns a thing or two from Indra Nooyi.Like,for instance,the fact that it is easier to sell or kill a business than grow it.In a tete-a-tete with Nooyi, Nadan perceives the PepsiCo story since Nooyi.Read On…
NILEKANI: So, you actually went around to your restaurants…
NOOYI: Absolutely. Not just our restaurants, but competitors’ restaurants as well. We just hopped on a plane, went to towns, morning till evening checked restaurants — front of the house, back of the house, and what did other people say…. everything.

NILEKANI: Speed, quality, hygiene…
NOOYI: Exactly. And competition. We tried to understand the economics of the restaurant business — what has happened to the restaurant business is that the profitability has fallen the way it has; worse than what it was in the late 80s when it was such a high flyer. Then we tried to understand the saturation of restaurants. We tried to understand what has changed in this business between 1987-88-89 and till 1994, that all of a sudden traffic is down, profitability is down. Is it the whole industry profit fall or is it the way we run the restaurants? Doing this sort of a bottom-up analysis, with no biases, yielded some fascinating results. This to me is perhaps the best piece of work we did in a long time, because what it showed was the industry has saturated and too many quick service restaurants had been built, because if you didn’t build the next quick service restaurant, somebody else built it.

NILEKANI: So it was a race to the bottom.
NOOYI: It was a prisoner’s dilemma. If you built it, you cannibalize your own concept, but if you didn’t build it, somebody else is going to cannibalize that concept.

NILEKANI: Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
NOOYI: So you were in this terrible, vicious cycle. On top of that, once you put the asset on the ground, you have to utilise it to the max and if you look at Pizza Hut, it only had lunch and dinner and didn’t have a breakfast. And if you look at KFC…

NILEKANI: You didn’t cater to a 24-hour meal cycle.
NOOYI: I mean, to maximise the output of that restaurant asset, we need to (do that). The first thing is real estate, which is the key driver of the restaurant’s performance, was getting scarcer and scarcer.

NILEKANI: Did you own the real estate or lease it out?
NOOYI: In most cases, we owned the real estate when we owned the restaurants.

NILEKANI: So you had all that capital on your balance sheet.
NOOYI: Oh absolutely. But we had actually many, many tens of thousands of restaurants. We didn’t own all of them. We owned about, at that time, 50- 60%. So, the first thing we said was, let’s take our restaurants and refranchise them. Because, if you walk into Pizza Hut and you don’t like the interaction, you do not come back. So, the quality of the labour became critical. We are not a big labour management company, and based on our calculations, PepsiCo would have needed half a million people just in the restaurant business.

NILEKANI: Jesus!
NOOYI: If you think about shifts, (there were) three shifts. And multiply this by tens of thousands (of people). And the attrition rate!

NILEKANI: Attrition rate is pretty high in this business.
NOOYI: Yes, and you know all about attrition (laughs).

NILEKANI: Yeah (laughs). It’s more in the restaurant business.
NOOYI: It’s terrible. It is very hard to get good people and by the time you do the background check on them and get them in, it is just impossible. So, we looked at this and said, my God, this is not the PepsiCo kind of business at all.

NILEKANI: That’s right.
NOOYI: And those who love the restaurant business have restaurant in their blood, want to have a steady labour pool — they’re the people that should own the restaurant.

NILEKANI: It is a classic franchisee business.
NOOYI: It is. So we started to refranchise huge chunks of the business.

NILEKANI: You started selling off to the franchisees.
NOOYI: Independent people, either existing franchisees or new people. That is the first step we did in 1995-96. In 1996, we said that refranchising is good, but does this business really belong to us? What would happen is, we would bring high-flying MBAs into the company and rotate them through senior jobs very quickly. What we realised was for them to grow in PepsiCo, you have to put them in the restaurant business. But when you put them in as a District Manager-Restaurants, they knew nothing about restaurants. You really needed a restaurant person to run restaurants.What we were doing was, in fact, burdening the restaurant business with the packaged foods culture. So, we realised what we had to do, at that point, was to untether the restaurant business from the packaged foods business. So, we really unburdened the restaurant business rather than unburden PepsiCo because we were destroying the restaurant business by meshing it within the packaged foods culture.

NILEKANI: So, you demerged the restaurants business.
NOOYI: Absolutely. We spun it off to its shareholders and it started doing exceedingly well. You know, I was at YUM! Restaurants two weeks ago before I came here, and just the whole culture of the place is different — the way they talk, the way they act, the way they care for their customer. It is not that we don’t care for customers, they deal with this at a very different level and there has been a huge success doing so. So that was the first one. And we reduced revenues by $10 billion.

NILEKANI: What was the revenue at that time?
NOOYI: $31 billion.

NILEKANI: Right now you are 33 or something, but a different 33.
NOOYI: Exactly. Much more profitable 33 and more cash. So in Step One, we dropped $10 billion. It was a very painful decision, but we did that.

NILEKANI: It was a bold thing, because it is easy for us to think of just building larger and larger companies, but not really analyse the way you did it.
NOOYI: And getting rid of friends, because everybody in the restaurant business grew up in PepsiCo. We grew that business. Wayne Calloway loved the business. John Kendall loved the restaurant business. So it was the most painful decision we made.

NILEKANI: So your coming from outside with no history, no legacy and the sharp and analytic approach had something to do with it. Did that make a difference to you in convincing everybody?
NOOYI: Absolutely, we had no vested emotion in that business. And, we started up saying it is easier to sell a business or kill it than it is to grow a business, so let’s try our best to grow what we have got. Because very few people have businesses they can grow. We had terrific brands, so we started off by saying we really want to grow this business, not spin it off.

NILEKANI: And so one-third of your business goes away, and from 30 billion you go to 20 billion.
NOOYI: And then right after that we bought Tropicana. And Tropicana was a very important acquisition because up to that time, PepsiCo’s brands in the beverage sector only became relevant after 10 o’clock in the morning. So from about 5 am to 10 o’clock…

NILEKANI: But I have a few friends who drink Diet Pepsi at breakfast (laughs).
NOOYI: But you know, I cannot grow a business based on your few friends drinking Diet Pepsi. So from 5 am to 10 am, our brands were almost not relevant. We thought that as a very important part of the day that we had to capture. We could have built a brand ourselves, but the point is when you have a brand like Tropicana, which was good for breakfast and good for you, we decided to buy it.

NILEKANI: So it was a part of Beatrice at that time or…
NOOYI: It was a part of Seagram.

NILEKANI: Seagram, and it was in the market?
NOOYI: Yes, they were following two tracks, IPO or sale. So we bid (for the company) and bought it in 1997. When we were buying Tropicana, the Cola-Cola Company’s stock price was almost $80 and much more than twice our stock price. They were the darling. So, we went to school on the Cola-Cola Company, trying to find out what they do right, what they don’t do right; what works, what doesn’t. One of the things we found out was the fact that they had spun off the bottling operation. This gave them a couple of advantages. One is bottling was a very labour intensive business again and it required maniacal focus on day-to-day operations. While the franchise company had to focus on the brands, it needed big investment, unlike Frito Lay. One could argue, after all, that the old Frito Lay is an operating entity. Why do you think about this business differently? Unlike Frito Lay, where distribution is everything, in the beverage business (both) a franchise company and the distribution company are important. So, it is critical for us that we look at these as two entities. We realised our strength is in franchise business. But you need a very operative culture to run a distribution business, which is precisely why Coke spun off its bottling units.

NILEKANI: It is also a kind of capital issue. Because, in a brand business, if you remove an asset-heavy stuff, you get much better PEs and so forth.
NOOYI: No question about it, and another arbitrage that was going on at that time was that the bottling companies were trading on EBITDA basis and we were on the PE, earnings basis. Clearly, there was a problem because in the case of the other company, they had spun off. And we were trading differently. So as I said, it was a follow strategy, and it was not a leading strategy.

NILEKANI: You did it almost 10 years later.
NOOYI: Right. But the only advantage we had was, we looked at everything they did wrong and we fixed it.

NILEKANI: Okay.
NOOYI: So we went to school on everything they did and anything they did wrong, we fixed in our business. When we spun off, we did an IPO of the bottling business, we didn’t spin it off. We did 60% IPO in ’99. So, just as we finished that in 1999, we started discussions on the Quaker Oats.

NILEKANI: When you spun it off, you kept 40%, so there was no consolidation.
NOOYI: No, not at 40%.

NILEKANI: How much revenue got lopped off ?
NOOYI: $7 billion.

NILEKANI: Oh God, so out of 30 billion, you knocked off 10 billion on the restaurant and took another 7 billion out.
NOOYI: Now, I had Tropicana.

NILEKANI: Yeah, from what you had in the original company, you went from 30 to 13 with these and you also brought in Tropicana.
NOOYI: Brought in Tropicana, and immediately we brought in Quaker Oats.

NILEKANI: So what was the revenue contribution of Tropicana?
NOOYI: Tropicana brought in a little over $3 billion. And then Quaker Oats brought in $7 billion.

NILEKANI: Fantastic.
NOOYI: I think it was an incredible financial transformation, because return on invested capital went from 15% to 25%. Cash flow on $30 billion of revenue was like a billion something; and on $20 billion of revenue — $ 10 billon less — it was over $3 billion.

NILEKANI: And you did that financial thinking?
NOOYI: It was the leadership of the company that did it together. This was not an individual activity at all. Then we bought the Quaker Oats Company for a couple of reasons, which is very critical. One, for the Gatorade business. It was an area that we were not very successful in, the isotonic business, and Gatorade had an 80% share of the isotonic business.

NILEKANI: 80%?
NOOYI: So we felt that was a very critical acquisition to make. They created the isotonic category. But the other reason we bought Quaker Oats, which very few people really understand, is because it was again similar to the Tropicana acquisition. If you look at Frito Lay, if you want to make a healthy product, you could not use any other Frito products, brands. To call them Frito bar or the Lays bar or Ruffles bar, and expect to use it for breakfast would be crazy.

NILEKANI: Yeah, Yeah. You didn’t have the right association.
NOOYI: Right. We needed another brand. So we knew we needed a nutrition-credential backed brand to launch a whole range of good food products. So the brand Quaker, when we did all our brand studies, was clearly on the top.

NILEKANI: Because of oats.
NOOYI: Exactly, cholesterol reduction. And you know the image of Larry in Quaker Oats, people loved it.

NILEKANI: It is very famous… Yeah.
NOOYI: When we looked at all this in Quaker Oats, the brand Quaker was as exciting to us as was Gatorade. So the combination of the two sets had this as a win-win situation.

NILEKANI: But wasn’t that company also in play?
NOOYI: Well, when we first started talking to them, they really were not in play. But then, by prudent shareholder actions, Quaker Oats had to pull itself from the block, because you cannot just talk to us and expect to get a deal done. Then eventually all the complications followed, with Coke coming in and then Danone coming in; and Danone walking away and Coke walking away.

NILEKANI: But net-net you bought it.
NOOYI: We announced in 2000. 2001, we closed it. And the rest is history, as they would say.

NILEKANI: We have been talking about this ‘good for you’, ‘better for you’… So when did that seep into the whole strategic thinking?
NOOYI: It actually started in 1996. It was the first time we started talking about it.

NILEKANI:Did you anticipate it? Because you know today, certainly in the Western society, the focus on wellness, obesity, lifestyle-related things is much more than it was I would say in the 1990s.
NOOYI: PepsiCo anticipated it in 1990, when we moved to classified beverages as liquid refreshing beverages as opposed to carbonated soft drinks. That is when we moved into partnership with Lipton for Tea, with Starbucks for Cappuccino, we started moving into juices ourselves. So, we started really making the move in 1990, and along with the acquisition of Tropicana and then Gatorade, we really cemented our move in to non-carbonated beverages and today we have the Number One brand literally in every aspect of non-carbonated beverages. The real thinking on health and wellness started in 1996, 1997, but then Steve Reinemund accelerated it when he took over and now, you know, it’s squarely in focus.

NILEKANI: Absolutely. You are talking of wellness and better-for-you being more than half the business, or as a goal.
NOOYI: Not as the business, as a goal. Would like it to be 50:50. The problem is that, ‘fun for you’ today has globally 70% of the business, and that is growing.

NILEKANI: Alright.
NOOYI: So as long as that keeps growing, you will never be able to catch up easily unless you do something big.

NILEKANI:It certainly is not all that profitable to just make it big.
NOOYI: That is right. In any case, the consumer is saying don’t tell us what to eat, let us decide what to eat. That means, we have to be careful.

NILEKANI: But you are on that side by the fact that in your snacks, for example in India, you have eliminated trans fats, you’re reducing salt, reducing those kind of things. Are you making efforts even on the ‘fun for you’?
NOOYI: It’s improved, ‘fun for you’. We can improve ‘fun for you’, but then, I think there is always a place for those products. Look at what I ate since I came here and look at my products. I think one gulab jamun has got six Pepsis in it. It is okay that I consume huge quantities of that. So I think it (Pepsi) has its place in the Indian diet. The question is: how do you make sure you eat it all in one way? And even in Quaker, we have a whole range of Quaker snacks — Quaker bars, Quaker Oatmeal and cookies. We have a fantastic pipeline of products.

NILEKANI:When you came in here you were talking about performance with a purpose, so with this term, what did you have in mind?
NOOYI: I think PepsiCo has this unique opportunity to be what I would call the defining corporation of the 21st century. Let me speak of that. When Roger Enrico took over in 1996-1997, we all sat down and we said what is it going to take to make PepsiCo a defining corporation in the 21st century. What do we mean by that?

NILEKANI: That is an ambitious goal…
NOOYI: Absolutely. So, let’s talk about what we mean by defining corporation and let us talk about what we can do. We started off saying when people talk about the last two decades of the 20th century and talk about the great companies, they talk about IBM, Johnson & Johnson and GE and, you know, names like Microsoft immediately come to mind. And last few years of the 20th century, the Infosys of the world come to my mind.

NILEKANI: Oh, thank you.
NOOYI: Clearly, there is no question about it. You are one of the defining companies in the world. But I think, in the first part of the 21st century, and I say first part because I don’t want to say 21st century… that is a 100 years, who knows who is going to be around or what the world is going to look like… So the first two or three decades of the 21st century, there is a unique opportunity for PepsiCo to be among the defining corporations — not “the” but “among the”…

NILEKANI: What is the strategic asset that you have ?
NOOYI: Because we are going to deliver performance with purpose, and I am going to talk about that in just a second. What do we mean by delivering performance with purpose? Clearly, delivering performance is….

NILEKANI: It is non-negotiable.
NOOYI: Yeah, we want to deliver, for the food and beverage business, industry-leading financial performance. No question about it. Let’s talk about purpose. As I said in my speech in Delhi, out of 100 most powerful economic entities, one-third of them are companies.

NILEKANI: The 100?
NOOYI: The largest economic entities in the world. Two thirds are countries, one third are big companies.

NILEKANI: Some of the companies are bigger than the countries.
NOOYI: Exactly, you know the size of big multinationals. I mean I look at our company with a market capital of $100 billion, that is pretty significant. So we have a profound influence in society — we shape lifestyles, we shape behaviors, the interactive community. And this is not new. This is what PepsiCo has been doing for the past few years. I think, I am just putting some more shape and direction to it. The purpose part comes on three layers. The first is human sustainability. I feel we have to focus on ensuring people live healthy and live longer. So, before making sure the portfolio has health and wellness products and ‘fun for you’, I want to accelerate the move to a balanced portfolio globally. The second part is environmental sustainability. Clearly, we want to make the world a better place for our children. So, worrying about the water use, energy use and recyclability, all of that stuff. Again you have to balance very carefully with the profit part of it, and talking about sustainability. And the third part is, for our employees and people sustainability. It is making sure that PepsiCo is the most diverse and the most inclusive place for all people — women, minorities, irrespective of your ethnic background or nationalities. We want to make PepsiCo the place where the best people want to come and work in. So, clearly, I think if PepsiCo could take the leadership on these three purpose-driven activities, we could be among the defining corporations because we would have a clear plan for each one, but we are not going to give up on performance.

NILEKANI:Okay. One of the things we very clearly found at Infosys is that if your employees feel that you have a purpose which is just larger, performance is not a question. But if they feel that your purpose is to change the world in some way, I find that the emotional fuel of that is much more than just a job.
NOOYI: Yeah, that is very true.

NILEKANI: It’s a commitment.
NOOYI: Yeah, today’s is a war for talent. People don’t come into the company and stay for reasons other than compensation. Compensation part becomes the great leveller. I think if that people do not want to come in and stay because they love coming to work every day, I don’t think you can hold on to that business.

NILEKANI:Let’s talk about India now. How important is India for you — I mean as a market and in whatever way you connect with this place?
NOOYI: The emerging markets are very important to us. The traditional Brazil, Russia India and China are very, very important to us. India is important to us, not just in terms of profit generation, returns, or growth, we say India is a long term investment market. India is important to us in a couple of key ways. One, it’s a long-term investment market and we would like to participate in growth. We would like to bring all of PepsiCo’s products into India and the company will perform with purpose in India.

NILEKANI: Do you have all your products right here in India today?
NOOYI: Not all of them at all now. Not even a fraction of them.

NILEKANI: So just getting in the entire product line itself is a huge opportunity.
NOOYI: It is a huge opportunity. That is the first one. The second is the India management team is really the feeder group for global management. We have got 40 Indian executives who are in PepsiCo senior jobs.

NILEKANI: Would be top 400 or something like that.
NOOYI: In the top 400. We really got great Indian executives who are feeding the company.

NILEKANI: It is also feeder group of human capital.
NOOYI: Absolutely. I mean, just look at Asia Pacific, that is China, Vietnam or Thailand, you name it. We have got greatest Indian executives who are running key parts of our company. The third way that India is very interesting is that India has a way of triggering on how to do things at a low cost for you. And the ingenuinity of Indian people is something that you cannot find elsewhere in the world. So, India is an exciting market for us.

NILEKANI: Have you had any product or business innovation that you exported from here into the Pepsi system?
NOOYI: The Kurkure… It has gone obviously to places like Pakistan and exported to several countries. I understand now the US is looking at bringing in Kurkure and, again, it may not go with the same spicy flavor, but the substrate with that crisp bite with little bit different flavors could find its way into the US markets soon. So we are working through all of these things and it’s a great feeder group for all that technology innovation.

NILEKANI: Now the other thing is, of course, we can’t have this conversation without talking about this pesticide issue. You have taken some moves there in terms of actually working with your competitors in bringing some new ways of approaching it. Can we talk about that?
NOOYI: Our products are the safest in the world. I think, if I sit back and look at what’s happened in India, I think the NGO really wanted to highlight the issue of food safety standards for India. I think that whole controversy started with milk. The fact of the matter is we were caught in cross lines. When you are testing a very complex finished beverage with a testing method, which is really not geared towards testing these sorts of products, we many times get false positive results. We did get some positive results at very, very low possibility. Now, that’s as far as this controversy. Now, the government has since tested many, many samples of Coke and Pepsi. We have tested our own samples of Pepsi from around the world and I can tell you, we have no pesticides in our products because we test every input, where there are reliable tests for inputs, which are simple. Having said that, try explaining false positive results to public! The fact of matter is public has been told that there are some low level of pesticides probably in soft drinks. Nobody focuses on the low level, they focus on pesticides in the soft drinks. Our brand is under attack. We have to do something about it.

NILEKANI: You are a consumer brand. And your brands are under attack. Whatever be the background of that, you have to…
NOOYI: That is right. First, we have to find the testing methodology, which does not exist in the world because nobody tests that level. We are talking about one drop of pesticide in the Olympic-sized swimming pool of water, that is what we are talking about, right. Let’s be honest about what we are talking about. So, we have to find first a testing protocol to test at that level. It has taken us three years. We think we have a method, but the problem is the testing methods to test at that level are very expensive. What is the point of having a testing method when you can’t test all the samples on a repetitive basis.

NILEKANI:But the risk you have as a strong, global brand, is that if somebody wants to make a larger point, it is easy to take you as a case and put it across. So do you think it’s that or something else?
NOOYI: It’s inevitable and it is a part of business. I think, by and large, NGOs tend to be… They don’t want to sully their names either. So I think we have to ascribe positive intent to most of the NGOs.

NILEKANI: Have you met Sunita Narain?
NOOYI: Not yet, but I would love to meet her.

NILEKANI: Great, then I think the next interview, we should…
NOOYI: No, I would love to meet her. I really would like to meet her, because I am sure that what she is doing is labour of love for the county and I have nothing against Sunita Narain. I will be honest with you. I have heard wonderful things about her.

NILEKANI: But I think you are sitting on the verge of really making a huge contribution to Pepsi and I guess that is the excitement you have.
NOOYI: Absolutely. I love this company. We have an outstanding group of people at Pepsi. The thing I like about PepsiCo is the team that has been built, the culture that exists, a sort of ownership culture. It is extraordinary. I think that’s what makes the difference.

NILEKANI: I think this redefining the corporate for 21st Century, that’s an ambitious and audacious enough goal which can drive people to aspire to the next level.
NOOYI: And it is attainable. That is more interesting.

NILEKANI: If I were to set people audacious goals, it energizes them because its all about human energy, its all about emotional capital at the end of the day. If you can get that out, then you are home.
NOOYI: Absolutely right and you know, I always tell my people that. What I never want to do is if they get a competing offer from some other company, to match it and then hold on to them. At that point, I have lost their hearts. When a head hunter calls, I don’t want to take the call. I want to say, I love this company so much that I won’t take the call. That’s what we need to do. Because ultimately it is the people that are going to make or break the company, it is not the assets, it is not the brand.

NILEKANI: Your mother seems to have been a huge influence on you, right from the days she prompted you to get 100% marks in Maths and all that…
NOOYI: That is typical southern Brahmin stuff. So there is nothing unique about that. I think that she was genetically programmed for that. The entire family focused on grades. When parents got together they only compared the report cards of their kids. Anybody who got together would say, ‘so how is your child doing’, ‘what rank’. That was growing up in 50s and 60s. The real issue is, my father travelled a lot and my mother was back at home.

NILEKANI: He was in the bank, the State Bank.
NOOYI: Yes. My mother was the constant force and I think she always wished she were the prime minister of this country.

NILEKANI: Really?
NOOYI: Oh, she is that. She is a real gogetter.

NILEKANI: So, did she pass on her ambition to both of you?
NOOYI: Absolutely, no question about that. She was an interesting study in contrasts. She passed on her ambition and she always said to us ‘I want to get you married when you are 18, and make sure you aspire to be the prime minister.

NILEKANI: Do both. Satisfy this. Satisfy that.
NOOYI: We never figured out where she came from. But deep down inside, I think my father, my grandfather, all said, ‘Our grand-daughters are going to be whatever they want to be’. So, my mother really did not have this get-them-married-by-18 option, although she kept on threatening us with that.

NILEKANI: When you finished at IIMCal, and you went to Yale. Then she didn’t try to get you married.
NOOYI: She threatened that all kinds of things will happen. But at the end of the day, you know, deep down inside I think she said, ‘this is what I really like to do. But that is really what they want to do. And let me not stop them’… My mother says that everything else is what you acquired or what you got is because I pray for four to five hours a day. She says, ‘what did you accomplish? You sit in a meeting on a chair all the time, and I pray for 4-5 hours.

NILEKANI: She takes the full credit for it.
NOOYI: And you know, it is a dream at this point. Sometimes I pinch myself. So this must have been forces other than just me…

NILEKANI: Also, the other thing is that you have been willing to, in the sense, wear your Indianness on your sleeve, whether it is wearing a saree at work or whether it is
NOOYI: Let me correct that, I don’t wear a saree

NILEKANI: No. I mean you are willing to wear it to events. There was a time when the Indians abroad were sort of hiding their Indianess to integrate better with that. Did you find that kind of a challenge anytime?
NOOYI: No.

NILEKANI: You were just what you were.
NOOYI: You know, lots are written about how she shows up at board meetings in the saree. My God, I have never worn a saree to board meetings, people play it out in different ways. I think I have never shied away from the fact that I am an Indian and I don’t intend to, but you can be at home with both cultures.

NILEKANI: You have done an incredible job managing the family, home, children, office. What are the tips for the rest of the normal mortals like us?
NOOYI: First, I wouldn’t say incredible job. We all try to do a job. As I have said before, Nandan, first of all, family has to support you. But more importantly, you have to pick the right husband, in your case, wife. I picked the right husband. Raj is a great guy and he has been a great support and I do not know where I would have been without him. I would say that without a doubt. He has been more than a husband. He has been a sounding board or friend. You know, people like us get very lonely, because you cannot share too much with other people. So you come home and he is there and you can discuss anything with him and he gives you sound advice.

NILEKANI: How do you manage time. I want to learn. You do not sleep I guess. How many hours you sleep?
NOOYI: Four hours.

NILEKANI: Four hours? Oh God.
NOOYI: Yeah. I feel if I slept six, I am a basket case. So four is a pretty good number. But the first thing is, I think, Nandan, and you do it better than anybody else. To be a CEO is a calling. You should not do it because it is a job. It is a calling and you have got to be involved in it with your head, heart and hands. Your heart has got to be in the job, you got to love what you do, it consumes you.

NILEKANI: So, everything has been thought through.
NOOYI: If you have to do something on the spur of the moment, everybody helps you out to do things, but that is only on an emergency. You can’t evoke the spur of the moment on a regular basis, then it is not a spur of the moment anymore, it is running from pillar to post. So, it is difficult. Trust me, I haven’t done everything right.

NILEKANI: Great. Thank you so much.
NOOYI: Thank you.

NILEKANI: I think you will do a great job.
NOOYI: Congratulations to you for being named in Forbes as Businessman of the Year. My goodness, I am privileged to be sitting here with you.

Courtesy: The Economic Times; 07 February, 2007

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