This book merits a place on our bookshelves not only because the writer is from our corner of the world, as also she is an iconic global figure who straddled the personal and professional worlds successfully. A corporate honcho, a daughter, wife and mother, the roles are played with grace and charm and seemingly with effortless ease. Her childhood and schooling in Madras , college and early jobs, her journey through the corridors of America’s super power, multi-national companies and the final glory, the feather in her cap, as PepsiCo’s CEO are well-documented and written in a fast-paced manner. The two main themes running through are the working mother’s guilt and the overwhelming call for women to enter into Boardrooms in powerful positions.
The road has had its many dips for her, especially with regard to the raising of her two daughters as an absent mother. She cannot overemphasize the importance of a care giving system that enables a woman to leave her home and go out to work. She relates the incident of her coming home agog with excitement to impart the stupendous news of her becoming the CEO at PepsiCo. Her mother stops her at the door and tells her to go to the store to get milk as they had run out of it! Nooyi doesn’t get a chance to share her news till the milk has been brought back! She reiterates often about the sanctity of home and family, and that the demands of office are but secondary.
Having said that, Nooyi was purposeful and impactful at work, bringing about bold and sweeping changes at PepsiCo, her first order of business being to make all their products wear a more healthy tag. She proposed a 50 percent cut in the sugar, salt and fat used in the production of the eatables. Her mantra was ‘nourish, replenish, cherish’ – ‘nourish’ to feed people responsibly, in a healthy manner, ‘replenish’ – ensure environmental sustainability by reducing plastic, water conservation, etc., and ‘cherish’ –sustain talent through a supportive, empowering workplace. She goes on to say that one memorable and visible change that she went on to make at the office was the removal of the beautiful French cobblestones on the walkway between the buildings, that played havoc with the women employees in high heels, much to the chagrin of the men, in their comfortable business shoes! But her female colleagues had nothing but high praise for her! Home or office, what shines through is her intense focus on the work at hand, giving it her undivided attention. No glossing over, she tells it as it is.