New York: Ramon Laguarta assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of global beverage giant PepsiCo on Wednesday, succeeding India-born Indra Nooyi who had helmed the American company for 12 years, breaking the corporate glass ceiling and leading Pepsi through changing consumer preference for healthier snacks and drinks.
Nooyi stepped down after 24 years with the company, the last 12 as CEO. She will remain Chairman until early 2019 to ensure a smooth and seamless transition. PepsiCo’s Board of Directors had in August announced that they unanimously elected Laguarta, 54, to succeed Nooyi, 62, as Chief Executive Officer. Laguarta was also elected to the company’s Board of Directors, effective October 3.
In her concluding remarks during PepsiCo’s Third Quarter 2018 Earnings Conference Call Tuesday, Nooyi said she has been blessed to have had the opportunity to lead PepsiCo and “work with such incredible people including our outstanding board, executives and other associates, our customers and other partners, our shareholders and all our other stakeholders.” Nooyi not only broke the glass ceiling in corporate America when she was named CEO of the global beverage giant in 2006 but, through her journey, inspired millions of young Indians who dreamed of and aspired to emulate the success the India-born woman achieved in America.
She was appointed as CEO in 2006, becoming PepsiCo’s fifth chief executive in its 41-year history, and the first woman. MasterCard’s President Ajay Banga, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Google CEO Sundar Pichai were all named to the top jobs in their companies in the years that followed.
Laguarta will become the sixth CEO in PepsiCo’s 53-year history. All have been appointed from within the organization, a testament to PepsiCo’s strong bench of talent and succession planning, the company had said. He 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.
Previously, Laguarta served as Chief Executive Officer, Europe Sub-Saharan Africa, one of PepsiCo’s most complex businesses with operations spanning three continents and comprised of developed, developing and emerging markets.
Prior to that, he served as President, PepsiCo Eastern Europe region and served in a variety of sales, marketing and other commercial roles across Europe. Laguarta holds an MBA from ESADE Business School in Spain and a Master’s in International Management (MIM) from Thunderbird School of Global Management in the U.S. A Barcelona native, he speaks multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Catalan, French, German and Greek.
The quarterly earnings report on Nooyi’s final day on the job beat analyst estimates. Revenue rose 1.5 per cent to USD 16.5 billion while earnings totalled USD 1.59 a share, both figures beating analyst estimates.
In her parting words before stepping down as CEO, Nooyi share some reflections on what she has learnt during her tenure.
“First, whether you work in operations, sales, R&D, or any of our functions, always have a clear, compelling vision for what you want to accomplish,” she said. Quoting a proverb that people perish where there is no vision, Nooyi said she has found that to be true for everyone, no matter the role in the company.
Nooyi also urged in her letter to be lifelong students. “Our world is changing rapidly all around us, and if you want to continue to thrive in the years ahead, you’ll need to continually educate yourself. Visit our Lifelong Learning Library in Purchase, take a course at PepsiCo University, listen to podcasts or search Google however you do it, make your ongoing education a priority,” she said.
Looking to the future, Nooyi said she has no doubt that PepsiCo’s best days are still to come.
Describing Laguarta as a great executive and one of the hardest-working, most humble people she knows, she said he is a global leader who knows the business inside and out and is exactly the right person to lead PepsiCo at this moment.