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Ready For Anything

CEO Case Studies: A Role Model and a Cautionary Tale

Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the March 2012 issue of . Subscribe »

Special Report - LeadershipIndra Nooyi - Chairman and CEO of PepsiCoIndra Nooyi
Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo

Her path: Nooyi started at PepsiCo in 1994 as chief strategist. Later roles there included senior vice president, CFO and president. She was named CEO in 2006 and chairman in 2007.

Company stats: About 300,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue of $60 billion.

Notable accomplishments:

  • Nooyi helped spin off Pepsi's restaurant division in 1997, restructuring KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell into a separate company, Yum Brands. In 1998 she put together a $3.3 billion deal for the purchase of Tropicana, and she was key in deciding to sell Pepsi's bottling operations (valued at $2.3 billion in its 1999 IPO). In 2000, Nooyi helped make one of the biggest food deals in corporate history when Pepsi acquired Quaker Oats for $13.4 billion. She was also instrumental in beating out archrival Coca-Cola for beverage-maker SoBe, which Pepsi acquired for $337 million.
  • Since Nooyi was named CFO in 2000, Pepsi's annual revenue has risen 72 percent. Net profit from 2000 to 2006 more than doubled to $5.6 billion.

Just rewards:

  • Listed as one of Time's 100 most influential people in the world in 2007 and 2008.
  • Took the top spot on Fortune's "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" list from 2006 to 2010.
  • Named one of America's Best Leaders in 2008 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Ranked sixth most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2010, and fourth in 2011.

Leadership style: She once said she strategizes 24/7: "I wake up in the middle of the night and write different versions of PepsiCo on a sheet of paper." She also strongly promotes Pepsi's diversity and inclusion training and leadership programs for employees--and studies teamwork by watching replays of Chicago Bulls championship games.

Said of her: Former Pepsi CEO Steven Reinemund has called Nooyi "a deeply caring person" who "can relate to people from the boardroom to the front line."

Said by her: "If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself, and the organization gets pulled up with you."

Lesson: Passion pays off--and so does a commitment to treating your staff well.

Dick Fuld - Former chairman and CEO of Lehman BrothersDick Fuld
Former chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers

His path: Fuld started at Lehman in 1966 as an intern and was hired in 1969 as a commercial-paper trader. He held the CEO and chairman position from 1994 until 2008, when the firm filed for Chapter 11 and announced a sale of major operations to parties that included Barclays Bank.

Company stats: More than 25,000 employees, with $4.2 billion in net income on net revenue of $19.3 billion in 2007.

After filing for bankruptcy with $639 billion in assets and $619 billion in debt, Lehman saw its market share fall by more than $46 billion.

Notable accomplishments: Steered Lehman into bankruptcy. Fuld has been criticized for not completing or refusing several proposed deals that may have kept the firm afloat, and for underestimating the effect of the U.S. housing market's collapse on Lehman's mortgage bond underwriting. His board of directors was known to be slow or reluctant to challenge him on his decisions as share prices fell.

Just rewards:

  • Took the top spot on Condé Nast Portfolio's "Worst American CEOs of All Time" list in 2009.
  • Came in at No. 9 on CNN's 2008 "Ten Most Wanted: Culprits of the Collapse."
  • The Financial Times gave him its 2008 "Lex Overpaid CEO Award" for take-home pay of $40.5 million in 2006 and $34 million in 2007, the two years before the firm's collapse.
  • Collected a grand jury subpoena from prosecutors investigating the bankruptcy.

Said of him: Nicknamed the "Gorilla of Wall Street," reportedly for his combative personality and tendency to grunt.

Said by him: In the Wharton School of Business' online journal, Fuld offered the following leadership advice: Pick a strategy and stick with it, "unless of course, you're wrong."

Lesson: Stay away from subprime mortgages, listen to your team instead of ruling with an iron fist--and don't be a Dick.

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