Indra Nooyi is a role model for millions of women across the globe. From time to time, she has inspired us not only through her achievements but also through her thought-provoking words. From time to time, she has spoken about the working women’s struggle. In the era where women are told they can have it all, Indra Nooyi refused to sugarcoat the challenges that many working women struggle with.
In one of her interviews, Indra Nooyi shared her struggle of leading Pepsi, one of the world’s largest corporations, while also trying to raise her two children and remain present for her family. Shattering the illusion of “You have it all”, Indra Nooyi spoke about the painful sacrifices and tradeoffs that working women make every day.
For Nooyi, ‘having it all’ is just an illusion that comes with painful sacrifices and tradeoffs that one makes.
On Whether Women Can “Have It All”
In conversation with Atlantic Media owner David Bradley, Indra Nooyi spoke about whether women can have it all. While sharing her thoughts, she mentioned:
“I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all. My husband and I have been married for 34 years. And we have two daughters. And every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we can be decent parents. But if you ask our daughters, I’m not sure they will say that I’ve been a good mom. I’m not sure. ”
On how she manages failure to live up to expectations:
“I’ll tell you a story that happened when my daughter went to Catholic school. Every Wednesday morning they had class coffee with the mothers. Class coffee for a working woman—how is it going to work? How am I going to take off at 9 o’clock on Wednesday mornings? So I missed most class coffees. My daughter would come home and she would list off all the mothers that were there and say, “You were not there, mom.”
The first few times I would die with guilt. But I developed coping mechanisms. I called the school and I said, “give me a list of mothers that are not there.” So when she came home in the evening she said, “You were not there, you were not there.”
And I said, “ah-ha, Mrs. Redd wasn’t there, Mrs. So and So wasn’t there. So I’m not the only bad mother.”
On Starting A Family
Further talking about the right time to start the family, the inspiring leader said:
“My observation…is that the biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other. Total, complete conflict. When you have to have kids you have to build your career. Just as you’re rising to middle management your kids need you because they’re teenagers, they need you for the teenage years.
And that’s the time your husband becomes a teenager too, so he needs you. They need you too. What do you do? And as you grow even more, your parents need you because they’re aging.
So we’re screwed.”
On Juggling Career And Family
Indra Nooyi shared how women juggle between career and family:
“Train people at work. Train your family to be your extended family…. If you don’t develop mechanisms with your secretaries, with the extended office, with everybody around you, it cannot work. You know, stay at home mothering was a full time job. Being a CEO for a company is three full time jobs rolled into one. How can you do justice to all? You can’t.”
At IFORHER, we are in awe of Indra Nooyi and her honest view about the women’s struggle. We hope her insights will help many working women to get rid of guilt and lead a life without the burden of feeling ‘not enough’!