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Indra Nooyi on Finding Balance

It doesn’t matter that she’s one of of the 4.8 percent of female Fortune 500 CEOs in the world. It doesn’t matter that she’s one of the 13% of Fortune 500 CEOs who hail from outside the country where the firm’s headquarters is located. It doesn’t matter that she’s consistently named as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world by Forbes.

When Indra Nooyi is home, she’s simply a mother, daughter and partner. The day she was appointed the President of PepsiCo, Indra went home to share the good news with her family:

I got home about 10, got into the garage, and my mother was waiting at the top of the stairs. And I said, “Mom, I’ve got great news for you.” She said, “let the news wait. Can you go out and get some milk?”

I looked in the garage and it looked like my husband was home. I said, “what time did he get home?” She said “8 o’clock.” I said, “Why didn’t you ask him to buy the milk?” “He’s tired.” Okay. We have a couple of help at home, “why didn’t you ask them to get the milk?” She said, “I forgot.” She said just get the milk. We need it for the morning. So like a dutiful daughter, I went out and got the milk and came back.

I banged it on the counter and I said, “I had great news for you. I’ve just been told that I’m going to be president on the Board of Directors. And all that you want me to do is go out and get the milk, what kind of a mom are you?”

And she said to me, “let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.”

Achieving the success that Nooyi has requires masterful balance. Luckily being at the helm of $100 billion+ company doesn’t change much for Nooyi back home. It’s careful and consistent switching between executive-mode and family-mode that helps Nooyi run a company the scale of PepsiCo.

Whether she’s in the boardroom or her daughter’s basketball game, Nooyi remains grounded and focused on the things that truly matter. While it’s easy to let ourselves think that “busy means better,” keeping perspective on parts of our lives that should not suffer from that hustle is key.

While family may be supportive of your ambition, that does not mean they should be tossed by the wayside. That juggle isn’t a walk in the park either; read Nooyi’s thoughts on why women can’t have it all over at Business Insider.


At least one person in the Year One family has a motto of there only being two groups in his life: clients and family. There are benefits to being part of ours: follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for insight, wisdom and notices for when our posts go live.

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Written by Hamza Khan

Hamza is an award-winning digital strategist and entrepreneur making a splash in higher education.

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