Real Life GirlMogul – Indra Nooyi

Indrea Nooyi in Business Dress
Indrea Nooyi in Business Dress

I was drinking a Pepsi cola with my turkey sandwich for lunch today, and my mom asked me a question. Do you know who is in charge of making Pepsi and running the Pepsi Company? You know me; I’m always ready to look for answer. And I knew my mom asked me for a reason. So, I jumped on the internet and looked up the CEO, which stands for the Chief Executive Officer, of PepsiCo.
I found out that the CEO of Pepsi is actually a woman. Her name is Indra Nooyi, and she is the first female CEO of the Pepsi in history. Indra Nooyi was born in Chennai, India in 1955. She went to high school and college in India. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree from Madras Christian College, Ms. Nooyi worked in India and went back to school to get a post-graduate degree. She even played cricket (a game sort of like baseball) and played guitar in a rock band! Later, she came to the United States to study business management at the Yale school of Management in 1978. She worked for a lot of companies after that, including ones I’ve heard of like Motorola.
Indraa started working for PepsiCo. In 1994, it is really inspiring to see the way she worked her way up the ladder in the company. In less than 7 years, Ms. Nooyi was promoted to the president of the company, and the CFO (Chief Financial Officer)! Five years later, in 2006, she was promoted to the position of CEO. Indra Nooyi is still one of the only women to have worked her way up to the position of CEO in such a big company. PepsiCo is one of the biggest companies in the world. They don’t just make sodas! They have partnerships with brands like Tropicana (they make my favorite orange juice), and Aquafina water. They even distribute the Starbucks bottled coffee my mom drinks in the morning! And Ms. Nooyi is in charge of the entire company. She makes really hard decisions every day, and the company trusts her to make the right ones. Even in today’s times, my mom told me it is still hard to find complete equality in the business world. Indra Nooyi is breaking all kinds of barriers in business. She is a woman, and immigrant, and was named the third Most Powerful Woman in 2008 according to a magazine called Forbes. Also, U.S. News & World Report called Indra Nooyi one of America’s Best Leaders in 2008!

The coolest part about Indra Nooyi’s life story is that while she was fighting for success, she never let go of her heritage and culture. Even after she became the CEO of Pepsi, she continued to show off her South Asian background with pride. Indra Nooyi is known to wear the traditional Indian dress at all the Pepsi annual Christmas parties- a saree! Below is a picture of Indra Nooyi in a business suit, and her showing off her saree! She even has two daughters and calls her mother in India twice a day!

She is a real inspiration to me, and proves that a person from anywhere, of any gender, can do anything (even a girl like me, from a small town and farm!)

I hope that her story inspired you, too. If you know of any other real life GirlMoguls I can research, please let me know!

Why Feminists Hate Sarah Palin

That’s the title from the WSJ opinion piece…by a women.  Obviously it caught my attention – I mean Sarah Palin has opened the Mommy Wars in a whole new way (Hilary didn’t so much because her child is an adult – working motherhood for her had been hashed out it in ’96).  But Sarah Palin is the mother of 5 young children and so she is front and center in the debate.   According to this article, it quoted other columnists as fretting that Gov Palin was not a good role mother for working mothers because she does too much – 5 children, high profile job, and all without the help from government agencies.  Of course Sarah Palin has an ace in the hole – the support of her husband who is on a leave of absence from work.  This means he is stay at home dad, in case anyone was unclear.  Gov Palin also credits a strong network of aunts and grandparents.   The problem with this, some other Feminists have pointed out, is that this means she’s not advocating for maternity leave, universal pre-k or equal pay.  One the one hand Sarah Palin is great role model – she has managed to combine work and family…but because she is doing it on her help, she not feminist enough…

So is Sarah Palin a good role model for today’s girls – will they look at her and see the embodiment of having it all – or is she is bad for the feminist agenda of equal pay and more government support for working mother’s?

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Newsweek Article: Study – Kids of Priviledged Working Moms Fare Worse

than kids of privileged non working moms….Wow – can you believe it…the title alone is enough to strike any working mom in the gut.  A study (as reported in Newsweek) found that the children of affluent moms who returned to the workplace fared more poorly on tests (at age 10 and 11)  and were more like to be obese than kids of affluent moms who stayed home OR less affluent moms who went to work. SO again, this study and article focuses on that small group of mothers who have a choice about working or not. The study found that working moms who found care for their kids outside the home also had an advantage -presumably because the care they found was better than what they could have provided. Ouch…

So now I am feeling guilty… on the one hand I bet I qualify as an affluent mom.  On the other hand, I don’t feel like one.  Between the student loan debt it took to get me to this state of affluence, the outrageous costs of housing and the subsequent plunge in the market which has made my house worth less than what I bought it for, I feel like I have to work.  Not much of a choice here if I want to pay my oil bill this winter.  I also believe that my day care arrangements are excellent.  Though I felt a small moment of panic when I realized that one of the boys in my son’s preschool class knew the letters of the alphabet better.  I immediately bough a workbook and have resolved to use it at nighttime – mixed in with Curious George will be an alphabet review…

The author of the study is careful to say he draws no conclusions about working vs. non working but does say that it indicates a need for better support for working families in general.  I for one know that I would feel a lot easier about not working for awhile if I knew it would have been easier to get back into it again.  And with hindsight, I might have done a few things differently with real estate…and I would have tried to win the lottery.

But ah well – we all try to do the best we can – and that’s all anyone can ask.  So working moms and and stay at home moms – don’t beat each other up about our choices – sometimes it is a choice, sometimes it isn’t…. and you just never know.

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