Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo Chairman and CEO & Doug McMillon, Walmart President and CEO | Summary and Q&A

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May 20, 2016
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo Chairman and CEO & Doug McMillon, Walmart President and CEO

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Summary

In this video, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon interviews Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo. They discuss various topics such as the need for change in today's rapidly changing world, the importance of design in product development, the challenges of leading large companies through transformations, and the role of sustainability and making a positive difference in the world. They also touch on the use of technology and social media in communication and leadership. Nooyi shares her admiration for Steve Jobs and leaders of NGOs, while McMillon highlights the importance of taking risks and making a personal impact in the world.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the significance of change in today's business environment?

Change is of utmost importance in today's business environment, as the pace of change is accelerating and companies need to constantly adapt in order to survive and thrive. CEOs are expected to be agile and make changes quickly, as the world and consumer preferences are constantly evolving. This requires companies to be in a constant state of innovation and to anticipate and respond to change effectively.

Q: How is the food and beverage industry changing?

Every aspect of the food and beverage industry is undergoing change. What is considered healthy food is changing, and consumer preferences for what they want to eat and drink are also changing. Additionally, there is no clear authority or standard for product labeling, and supply chains are globalizing while traceability and safety standards have not been established. There is also increasing scrutiny from NGOs and a changing retail environment with the rise of e-commerce and discounters. These changes require companies to be flexible and adaptable in their business models.

Q: How do you balance preserving heritage and making necessary changes in a company?

Preserving heritage is important, but it should not hold a company back from making necessary changes. While there is value in respecting the past, leaders need to break away from tradition and make bold decisions to keep up with the changing world. It can be challenging to let go of long-tenured employees who resist change, but it is necessary to move forward. It is important to strike a balance between honoring the company's history and heritage while actively driving change for the future.

Q: How do you approach the issue of design in your company?

Design plays a crucial role in attracting consumers and creating a unique experience for them. At PepsiCo, they have built a design capability within the company to ensure that design is embedded in every aspect of their products and services. This includes not just packaging and aesthetics, but also how the product is experienced by the consumer. Design should be used to create excitement and differentiate the brand in the market.

Q: How do you learn as an individual and use that knowledge to shape the future?

Learning is essential for leaders, and it goes beyond traditional strategic planning and consulting reports. Leaders need to be lifelong students and constantly educate themselves about market trends, consumer behavior, and emerging technologies. They should gather data, make connections, and think creatively to envision the future. By understanding the market and consumer needs, leaders can drive innovation and shape the direction of their companies.

Q: How do you use technology and social media in your communication and leadership?

Technology and social media have transformed communication, allowing leaders to have a multi-directional and interactive dialogue with their employees and consumers. It is important for leaders to be active on various platforms and use them effectively to get their message across and listen to the concerns and feedback of their stakeholders. It allows for more transparency and engagement, and helps leaders stay connected to the pulse of their organization.

Q: How do you balance performance and purpose in your company's operations?

Performance and purpose should not be separate, but integrated into the core of a company's operations. It is not just about corporate social responsibility, but about how the company operates as a whole. Performance and purpose should drive profitability and sustainability, as well as attract and retain top talent. It involves making meaningful changes to the product portfolio, environmental practices, and employee support systems. By aligning performance and purpose, companies can have a positive impact on the world while maintaining their competitive edge.

Takeaways

Change is necessary in today's rapidly changing world, and leaders need to be open to adaptation and innovation. The food and beverage industry is undergoing significant changes, including shifting consumer preferences and increasing scrutiny from NGOs. Design plays a crucial role in attracting consumers and creating a unique brand experience. Leaders need to be lifelong learners and constantly gather knowledge to shape the future of their companies. Technology and social media enable more transparent and interactive communication. Performance and purpose should be integrated into a company's operations, driving profitability and making a positive impact on the world.

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