Press Clips: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi

So often we analyze margins and logistics and market share that it can be easy to forget about the people behind the business. Even Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, keeps her family in mind. Though not a regular headline, Nooyi’s family life made news recently when she spoke with David Bradley, owner of The Atlantic, at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Nooyi discussed the challenges of balancing work with the rest of her life.

Her responses held a level of a candor not usually shown by the typically polished, robotic executives of massive corporations. Bradley asked Nooyi to share the story of the day she was named president of the company.

About 14 years ago, the night of Nooyi’s appointment, she got home at about 10. Waiting there was Nooyi’s mother, who said to hold whatever news she had. Her family needed some milk for the morning. Nooyi returned with the milk, banged it on the counter and said: “I had great news for you…and all that you want me to do is go out and get the milk, what kind of mom are you?”

Her mother said; “let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.”

This story led to a question about “having it all.” Nooyi believes it can’t be done. We can pretend we have it all, she said. But when you have a husband and two daughters, and you have a business to look after, with the lives of many people influenced by your daily decisions, it sometimes must lead to one or the other.

“You know, you have to cope, because you die with guilt,” Nooyi said. “You just die with guilt. My observation, David, is that the biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other. Total, complete conflict.”

At conflict with Nooyi’s business are the murmurs of soda taxes in the Bay Area. Just as they always have, the proposed soda taxes in San Francisco and Berkeley, two of the more liberal places in the country, seem to remain a distant reality. This makes the Associated Press wonder: “If two of the most progressive U.S. cities don’t pass a tax on sugary drinks, will the idea finally fizzle out?”

The proposal in San Francisco, which will require a two-thirds vote in November, calls for a two-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks and would not include milk or fruit juices without added sugar. The Berkeley tax is for a penny-per-ounce and needs a majority vote.

However, if recent history serves as an indicator, these proposals won’t stand much of a chance. The efforts of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California State Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) have drawn more criticism than progress.

But soda taxes aren’t the only beverage-related objectives on the minds of progressive Californians. National Public Radio reported on Monday that a new group titled the Raw Milk Institute would like to establish national standards for the unpasteurized form of dairy.

“People are searching for local raw milk,” said Mark McAfee, CEO of Organic Pastures, the state’s largest raw milk dairy farm. “But when they go to the farm, or they go to the store, they really don’t know what they’re getting.”

McAfee has worked closely with epidemiologists, biologists and other health professional to establish a set of standards that account not just for bacteria levels, but also for protocols such as the temperature of the dishwasher used to clean the milk bottles. Another example: the distance between the water well and the manure pile.

As raw milk begins to make its way, the bottled water industry continues to strengthen its already firm foothold in the market. A recent story by CSPnet, a convenience store news outlet, notes that over the past decade, the number of adults who drank five or more glasses of bottled still water grew by about 22 percent. The story also notes that about 60 million American adults have consumed at least one glass of bottled still water daily over the past week, and that 35- to 44-year-olds tend to drink bottled water more than any other age group.