Kraft and PepsiCo CEOs' global betsSeptember 8, 2009: 2:04 PM ET
The Most Powerful Women in Business list is coming out this week. On Thursday you'll find out who rose, who fell, and who newly arrived on Fortune's annual rankings of 50 U.S. women leaders and 50 bosses of businesses abroad.
No sooner did we send the package to press on Friday than one of the list regulars, Kraft Foods (KFT) CEO Irene Rosenfeld lobbed a $16.7 billion bid to acquire Cadbury (CBY). Kraft is already the largest food company in North America. If she succeeds with this deal, Kraft would become a $50 billion-a-year global giant.
Rosenfeld was No. 2 on last year's MPWomen list, just a notch behind PepsiCo (PEP) CEO Indra Nooyi, who has led our rankings since 2006. I went up to PepsiCo headquarters last week to interview Nooyi. And though I've spent my 25-year career at Fortune closely watching this ever-expanding corporation (and have known the three CEOs before her), I'm struck that Nooyi has a global view unmatched by her American-born predecessors.
At last year's Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, Nooyi told Time Inc. (TWX) CEO Ann Moore, in an on-stage interview, that she intends to visit 80 countries in her first five years as chief executive. Three years into the job, Nooyi is well on her way. She visited China and Russia this past summer.
This year's Most Powerful Women issue--and web coverage--will include parts of my interview with Nooyi. But right now I'll give you a sneak peak of a few things that the PepsiCo boss said:
On China: "The Chinese are very comfortable about themselves and China's place in the world scene. More so now than I've ever seen. They think their government is doing the right thing—that the way the government put the stimulus into shovel-ready projects is the right way to go."
On Russia: "Whether it comes to Mr. Putin or Mr. Medvedev, the Russians are very, very confident that they're taking them in the right direction. I left Russia feeling good about Russia. There is problem with Russia, and it's demographics. They have a population that's declining by half a million people every year."
On career paths: "To me, to say 'What's the next job?' is the most terrible thing you can do. If you're so focused on the next job, you forget how to do your existing job."
On power: "It's a terrible word, first of all. You have sway over many people. Power is dangerous in the hands of someone who doesn't understand the responsibility."
I told Nooyi that my favorite definition is one that Oprah Winfrey told me years ago: "Power is the ability to impact with purpose."
"That's a great one. A great one," Nooyi replied. "Impact with purpose—if people interpreted power as just that, then power is an okay work."
Watch Postcards this week and next for lots more MPWomen news. Also, if you can, catch me co-hosting Squawk Box on CNBC this Thursday 8-9 a.m. EST. Our guests will be Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz, Xerox (XRX) chairman Anne Mulcahy and Meredith Whitney, the much-watched analyst who calls the ups and downs in the banking industry quite powerfully.