“Bring your whole self to work,” Indra says. “Don’t create a persona of someone else–be authentic.” This dynamic woman, who was named President and CEO of PepsiCo Inc. in 2006 and Chairman in 2007, believes opening up to colleagues creates a more supportive environment for everyone. “People at work are an extended family,” she claims, recalling a time when she forgot to make cookies for her daughter’s class. “I called down to the cafeteria and they ended up packaging some for me–they made them look like they had been homemade.” And, this busy leader also appreciates everyone. “Each person you come in contact with, no matter what their role, has an ‘Ah-Ha’ moment for you–they have something to teach you.” She also credits her husband of over twenty years for making her complicated life more manageable.
Indra also speaks about the major force mentors play in helping leaders succeed. She says it best when she says, “mentors select you, not the other way around. Mentors work to consciously build your image and develop you. When a CEO turns to you in a meeting and asks for your point of view, other people notice and believe your views must be important…that’s part of mentoring.” She also thinks women have a big responsibility to mentor and help other women.
“We need to help each other succeed,” she says and then jokingly refers to a famous comment by Madeleine Albright: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
Speaking up on women’s issues and other important initiatives that impact the well-being of children can create conflict for women approaching the “C-Suite,” as Indra refers to it. “You may be perceived as having too narrow a focus, but who else is going to do it if you don’t?”
6 Lessons from Indra’s Business Life:
1. Be known for your in-depth knowledge of an area.
2. Take a stand with courage and confidence.
3. Communication skills are critical. You can never overinvest in them.
4. Bring your head, hands, and heart to work.
5. Surround yourself with good people. Your mentor is a major force.
6. Your moral compass must point to true north.
Published on womenworking.com by Stephanie
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