The first woman of color and immigrant to run a Fortune 50 company, Indra Nooyi’s career is legendary. Born in India, Nooyi earned her business degree in the U.S. and would later go on to head one of America's most iconic corporations, PepsiCo, as its Chairman and CEO. At Pepsi, Nooyi was instrumental in the lucrative restructuring and diversification of the company's brands. In addition to nearly doubling sales, she is also well known for her Performance with Purpose approach – a long-term growth strategy that also aimed to have positive impacts on society and the environment. In 2019, after 24 years with the company, she retired from Pepsi with a considerable fortune that stemmed from stock she received during her tenure. After being consistently ranked among the world's 100 most powerful women, today Nooyi serves on the board for Amazon and was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2021.
Among the many milestones in her career, Nooyi was a member of Yale School of Management’s (SOM) third class, which had just 110 students when she enrolled in 1978. Money was tight for the 20 year-old Nooyi and she was unable to afford a business suit (instead opting for a traditional Indian sari) when she interviewed at the consulting giant Booz Allen Hamilton, which hired her as a summer intern. “It was terrifying; I was lonely but somehow powered through it,” said Nooyi. To her point, Nooyi received her Master’s Degree in Public and Private Management in 1980.
As part of a long record of support for the Yale School of Management, in 2016 Nooyi gifted an undisclosed amount, which made her the school’s biggest alumni donor in history. She is also the first woman to endow the deanship at a top business school. Previously, Nooyi served as a member of the President’s Council on International Activities and a featured speaker at Yale’s Tercentennial and Yale SOM’s 25th anniversary.
In 2019, her alma mater honored her historic generosity with an honorary doctorate during that year's commencement ceremonies. In presenting Nooyi with her degree, Yale President Peter Salovey noted her impact as a role model for women and girls interested in top executive positions. “Indra Nooyi, intrepid trailblazer, you have led with purpose...you have embraced change, seized opportunities, and set an enduring example of success."