The best CEOs, I've learned in my 27 years at Fortune, come to the job with a deep-seated passion and a very personal view of what they want to accomplish.
PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi may be struggling lately. Yes, investors are impatient with her healthy-products strategy, the stock is down, and the Pepsi boss dropped to No. 2 behind Kraft Foods (KFT) CEO Irene Rosenfeld on the 2011 Most Powerful Women list.
But no one can deny that Nooyi, who became PepsiCo (PEP)'s chief in 2006, has injected the company with a clear long-term vision and a reputation for being a good citizen of the world.
Nooyi's vision, which she labels "Performance with Purpose," harks back to her days as a girl, growing up in southern India, as she explained in an interview with Fortune executive editor Stephanie Mehta at our Most Powerful Women Summit. In a city with little water, young Indra had to watch her mother go to collect three containers of water everyday. The family used that meager amount for drinking, cooking, and washing, while nearby corporations had more than enough water for their own needs.
You can see Nooyi tonight at 9 p.m. in a CNBC documentary, Pepsi's Challenge. From the MPW Summit, here's Nooyi on what led her, beyond her childhood experience, to "Performance with Purpose":
I met Steve Jobs only once--back in 2007 when he came to Fortune to demo the iPhone. What a thrill when he walked into the conference room and took the empty chair next to mine. Over the next 90 minutes, the Apple (AAPL) founder and chief mesmerized Fortune's editors by previewing his game-changing product and his insanely creative mind at work.
That day, I saw proof, up close and personal, that MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 12, 2011 12:57 PM ET
With Meg Whitman nabbing the CEO job at Hewlett-Packard--and the four women at the bottom of this list (below) new to the top job this year--America now has 15 female Fortune 500 CEOs.
Not a number to be proud of, but hey, it's a record and it is progress nonetheless.
Here are the women at the helm--including the rank of their companies on the Fortune 500:
11 Meg Whitman, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)
39 Pat Woertz, MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 23, 2011 2:00 PM ET
Meg Whitman is the new CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). Not interim chief. This is Whitman's for-real next big gig.
And it is big indeed, given that the storied Silicon Valley company has lurched from chief to chief to chief ever since the board, in 1999, eased out Lew Platt and recruited Carly Fiorina from Lucent (ALU).
Fiorina was the first No. 1 on the Fortune Most Powerful Women list, at the top MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 22, 2011 5:05 PM ET
Fortune's editors have chosen the 2011 Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs. From a pool of 131 applicants, we've selected (not easily) 10 extraordinary innovators, game-changers and groundbreakers whose startups generated $1 million to $25 million in annual revenue last year--but appear poised to become large and global businesses.
That is, these women could be on the Fortune Most Powerful Women in Business list someday. (This year's U.S. and international rankings will MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 13, 2011 1:28 PM ET
It was a double hit to Fortune's Most Powerful Women list last Tuesday when Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz and Bank of America's (BAC) Sallie Krawcheck got fired.
Bartz, No. 10 in our 2010 MPW rankings, went out with a bang--as my explosive interview with her, F-bombs included, shows. Meanwhile, Krawcheck, BofA's global wealth management chief and No. 24 on our list, exited without a sound.
I know both women well, and it's worth observing that MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 12, 2011 9:26 AM ET
What is the No. 1 trait that has led to your success?
Warren Buffett's is focus—according to Alice Schroeder, author of the Buffett bio Snowball, who spoke, as I did, at a corporate event at the U.S. Open last week.
Getting ready to go on stage, I thought, what's my key trait? Curiosity, I guess. It keeps a journalist alive and open to ideas.
So I was innately curious to interview Billie Jean MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 6, 2011 11:04 AM ET
Ever since Fortune, in 1998, started ranking the top women in business (yes, we were first), I've been asking the stars of the Most Powerful Women list how they reached the top and how they stay there. One month away from revealing our 2011 MPW rankings, now seems a good time to share some of their best career tips. Here is my Top 10:
1. Don't plan your career. Most of MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 30, 2011 10:48 AM ET
Last Monday evening, in the backyard of her Silicon Valley home, Marissa Mayer stood before a crowd of 200 fellow Googlers and their significant others, fed them roast quail and herb-crusted roast bison loin, and feted them for going mobile.
"We walked more than once around the earth at the equator—or 16.7 times around the moon," Mayer declared at the award celebration for the fourth annual "100 Mile Month Challenge."
This is MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 29, 2011 1:06 PM ET
The 2011 Fortune Most Powerful Women list will be announced on September 29. Meantime, a few stars on the 2010 MPW list are on Fortune's Executive Dream Team--a fantasy all-star lineup of managers, selected by Fortune editors with assists from recruiters and other business know-it-alls.
I use the term know-it-all with endearment because the selections, revealed today, are good. The non-executive chair of choice: Anne Mulcahy, the former CEO of Xerox MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 22, 2011 3:55 PM ET
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