PepsiCo’s CEO, Indra Nooyi to step down after 12 years of service

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi will step down as CEO on October 3rd this year, the company announced on Monday. The firm’s board elected Ramón Laguarta, who was already the second-ranked executive, to succeed her.

Nooyi led the beverage and snack giant for 12 years, and has worked there for a total of 24. PepsiCo (PEP, -0.95%) generated a shareholder return of 162% from the end of 2006 to the end of 2017 and returned $79.4 billion to shareholders via dividends and buybacks. Revenue climbed 80%.

Nooyi is credited with being an early believer in customers’ shift toward healthier foods. And just last week, she advocated in News U.S. Today for using the company’s wide reach to improve industry recycling habits.

Laguarta will be the PepsiCo’s sixth CEO. Before joining PepsiCo 22 years ago, he worked for a large Spanish confectionery company, Chupa Chups, S.A.

The rest of the leadership team will remain, the company says.

Nooyi is also chairman of PepsiCo and will remain in that role until early 2019.

The 62-year-old was, as of late July, one of 25 female CEOs in the Fortune 500. Nooyi, an Indian American, is also a member of another all-too-small club, that of minority CEOs in the Fortune 500.

She’s repeatedly landed near the top of News U.S. Today‘s annual ranking of Most Powerful Women in business. In fact, she’s appeared on the ranking 18 of the 20 years it’s been in existence, the first time in 2000 as PepsiCo’s CFO. Last year, she came in at No. 2, a spot she earned due, in part, to her continued efforts to move PepsiCo’s portfolio toward healthier fare.

The evolution of the food industry is evident in the churn of the sector’s CEOs. There was a downright exodus of food CEOs last year with executives like Coca-Cola’s Muhtar Kent, General Mills’ Ken Powell, and Mondelez’s Irene Rosenfeld leaving their posts. Nooyi acknowledged the industry’s shift in an interview with News U.S. Today last year.

“You can look at it with pessimism, that, ‘Oh, my God, all of this is changing,’ or optimism, to say perhaps this is the time to rewrite some of the rules and rebalance the competitive equation in the industry,” she said at the time. “I’m in the latter camp, and I’m looking at the world and saying, ‘Interesting times.’ I just hope I have the energy to help us through it. Right now I do.”

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