New York - Indra Nooyi will step down as PepsiCo's CEO after heading the world's second-largest 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 which she helped transform.
Nooyi, 62, will leave the company on October 3 after 24 years with PepsiCo. She will remain as chairman until early 2019.
PepsiCo's board of directors unanimously voted in 54-year-old President Ramon Laguarta, who will take over on 3 October and will also join the board, according to the company.
The rest of PepsiCo's senior leadership team will remain unchanged, it said.
Nooyi said she was incredibly proud of what has been achieved over the past 12 years.
"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," Nooyi, who steered the company away from its core soda business and led an expansion into soft drinks, snacks, and healthier options, tweeted.
Among the few executives to break the glass ceiling in corporate America, Nooyi had also scripted history by being among the few India-born females to lead a global giant when she took over the reins at PepsiCo.
"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," said Nooyi, a rarity on Wall Street as a woman and a minority leading a Fortune 100 company.
Nooyi praised her successor, calling him "exactly the right person to build on our success."
It was not immediately clear why Nooyi decided to step down.
Pepsi's stock lagged the broader market in recent years, and it has trailed rival Coca-Cola. Shares are down 1.5 per cent this year, compared to a 5 per cent rise in the S&P 500 index, according to CNN.
Barcelona-born 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.
Laguarta said Nooyi has transformed the company with her bold vision and outstanding leadership, and he is fortunate to have her as a mentor and a friend.
"I look forward to working more closely with all of you in the months and years ahead, and to continue growing this special company long into the future," he said.
Laguarta has held a number of executive and general management roles in his 22 years at PepsiCo. Since September 2017, Laguarta has served as President of PepsiCo, overseeing global operations, corporate strategy, public policy and government affairs.
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.
Under Nooyi's leadership, PepsiCo said it has delivered strong results. Since December 31, 2006, total shareholder return of 162 per cent through December 31, 2017, total cash returned to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases of USD 79.4 billion since the beginning of 2006 through the end of 2017 and net revenue growth from USD 35 billion in 2006 to USD 63.5 billion in 2017, a compound annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent.
Speaking on behalf of PepsiCo's Board of Directors, presiding director Ian Cook said Nooyi provided "outstanding leadership" over the past 12 years, serving as a model both within the industry and beyond for responsible corporate stewardship in the 21st century.
"She has delivered strong and consistent financial performance, managing with an eye toward not only the short-run, but the long-run as well. As CEO, she grew revenue more than 80 per cent, outperforming our peers and adding a new billion-dollar brand almost every other year,” Cook said adding that shareholders have also benefited as USD 1,000 invested in PepsiCo in 2006 is worth more than two-and-a-half times that amount today.
During her tenure, Nooyi also focussed on corporate sustainability and responsibility.
Cook said as one of the first Fortune 100 CEOs to embed sustainability targets into business operations, Nooyi was a "pioneer, paving the way for a new generation of business leaders who seek to 'do well by doing good."
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.