Source : – Economic Times

NANDAN: I tried to see how we could structure this conversation and I thought there are, broadly, three areas we could talk about. One is about the business. The other about India and different aspects of India, your plans for India and so forth. And the third is more on the personal side.

INDRA NOOYI: Yes, as long as we stay out of politics.

NANDAN: Yes. You joined Pepsi in 1994 and at that time, it was soft drinks, restaurants and bottling; and it had assets, capital and so forth. Pepsi, 12 years later, is a completely different company, because you demerged a few things, you bought a few things. Could you just trace that whole journey and your strategy behind that?

Sure. In 1994, when I came to PepsiCo, there were really three businesses. They were soft drinks which included both bottling and the concentrate company. There were salted snacks — Frito Lay. And restaurants where we had, we all talk of them, Pizza Hut, KFC and a whole bunch of casual dinning chains.

PepsiCo, until 1994, had been a much admired company which was performing phenomenally well. Around 1994-95 the restaurant business started softening, and softening in a dangerous way. We didn’t like the business trend. Roger Enrico came in, back from a sabbatical, and he became head of the restaurant sector which at that time didn’t have anyone. So Wayne Calloway, the then CEO, appointed Roger as the head of the restaurant sector and I was his chief of staff having just joined the company.

So in ’94, Roger and I undertook a sweeping relook at the restaurant business. We didn’t take any action on the restaurant business; we were trying to understand as to what was going on with the business — that it had been such a high flying one, and all of a sudden the performance fell. It was really falling. And the wonderful thing is both Roger and I didn’t know the restaurant business. We had to learn it from scratch. We had no biases, we had no hidden agendas, we didn’t have any baggage we were carrying. We just went and worked our way up and down the restaurants of every city.

NANDAN: So, you actually went around to your restaurants…

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.

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