Will former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi head the World Bank?
- Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi is reportedly on a list of candidates to replace current World Bank President Jim Yong Kim when he steps down next month, sources told The New York Times. Nooyi has a fan in the president's daughter Ivanka Trump, who is on the hiring committee that was expected to begin interviews Tuesday. Other committee members are Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
- Nooyi, who was born in India, was PepsiCo's first female CEO. She left the top job at the New York-based food and beverage company in August after 12 years in the position — and 24 years with the firm. She was replaced by Ramon Laguarta, a 22-year company veteran, who took over on Oct. 3.
- Others reportedly being considered for the World Bank post are David Malpass, Treasury's undersecretary for international affairs, and Ray Washburne, president of the Overseas Private Investment Corp. The hiring committee will recommend one of the candidates to President Donald Trump, who will make the final choice, The Times reported.
At first glance, Nooyi's background and business experience would seem like a good fit for the World Bank presidency. After assuming the CEO position in 2006, PepsiCo's net revenue grew from $35 billion to $63.5 billion in 2017, while generating a shareholder return of 162%.
Nooyi aggressively positioned the company through a number of high-profile acquisitions to expand its portfolio into trendy areas to help harness this growth. Under her leadership, Pepsi purchased Bare Foods, which makes baked fruit and vegetable snacks, took a stake in hummus maker Sabra and acquired probiotics beverage manufacturer KeVita, a maker of kombucha and vinegar tonics.
This astute dealmaking could resonate with Trump. But that scenario assumes Nooyi actually wants the job, which is not at all certain. If she were to be named, Nooyi would be the first female World Bank president in its 75-year history. And while most of its leaders have had banking experience, three of them have not, including the current one.
Although Trump has been known to listen to his daughter's advice on occasion, this might not be one of those times. The two other candidates The New York Times named were involved in his presidential campaign, which could hold more sway with him because of his well-publicized concern about personal loyalty. Nooyi did not endorse either major-party nominee in the 2016 presidential race, but she said after the election that PepsiCo employees were "all in mourning" after Trump won, according to The New York Times.
It's also possible other voting members might want a bigger say about who leads the World Bank going forward. Despite the U.S. being the bank's largest shareholder, there are 19 other countries that could have different ideas. At the same time, it's possible that having a woman of color in the top spot — even one who is a naturalized American citizen — would sit well with them. It also might not hurt that Nooyi has championed healthier better-for-you food since the World Bank has targeted food security, nutrition and related issues.
Nooyi, 63, probably doesn't really need a job at this point in her life. Her salary was more than $31 million last year. Should she not be tapped for the World Bank presidency, it's likely she could find a position to work toward one of her personal goals: helping develop more women to achieve top leadership roles in business. As she told Bloomberg in August, she planned to take a break for a while, but not too long.
"We have to keep fighting the good fight to develop women, to mentor them, to support them, so that we can get more highly qualified women — and there’s plenty of them — into the boardroom, into C suites and into the ultimate CEO job," Nooyi said in August. "My job is in fact just beginning once I leave PepsiCo because I can do things now that I was constrained to do when I was CEO of the company."
- The New York Times White House Considering Indra Nooyi to Head World Bank