Business Group Blog

"Leave the Crown in the Garage." A Message on Work-Life from PepsiCo's CEO


Success cannot be defined nor sustained by one dimension of our lives. Our physical health affects our work performance, and our job satisfaction affects our emotional well-being in and out of the office. The lessons we learn in one role make us stronger in another, but we oftentimes find ourselves in conflict between responsibilities. A workplace culture of health and flexibility can assist employees in achieving work-life harmony and position businesses as employers of choice.

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s CEO, recently shared an inspiring message related to this topic on LinkedIn, “Leave the crown in the garage”: What I’ve learned from a decade of being PepsiCo’s CEO”. We encourage you to check out the full article, but here’s a genuine and moving taste:

None of us is just an employee. We’re also mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, daughters and sons, trying to balance multiple roles. And that’s what my seventh lesson is all about.

I’ll never forget coming home after being named President of PepsiCo back in 2001. My mother was visiting at the time.

“I’ve got great news for you,” I shouted. She replied, “It can wait. We need you to go out and get some milk.”

So I go out and get milk. And when I come back, I’m hopping mad. I say, “I had great news for you. I’ve just been named President of PepsiCo. And all you want me to do is go out and get milk.”

Then she says, “Let me explain something to you. You may be President of PepsiCo. But when you step into this house, you’re a wife and mother first. Nobody can take that place. So leave that crown in the garage.”

She was right, of course. No matter who we are, or what we do, nobody can take our place in our families. Now, I’ll admit, I’ve found it’s rarely possible to be the kind of mother, wife, employee, and person you want to be – all at the same time. Often, you need to make a choice, and that’s especially true if you want to be CEO. There’s no way around it.

And yet, for all the painful choices my husband and I have had to make, I also know our family has been incredibly fortunate. Many families in this country don’t have extended family to help with childcare or jobs that give them the financial means to pay for additional support.

This is a challenge we need to take on urgently. We need to come together, as corporations and as a society to support workers who are caring for young children, aging parents, or both.

I’m proud to say we’re trying to do our part at PepsiCo. This fall, we will begin offering onsite childcare at our headquarters in Purchase, New York and near-site childcare for employees in Plano, Texas. And we offer access to quality childcare for employees in certain markets around the world. That’s just part of our larger effort to make sure we’re supporting our working caregivers in every way we can and empowering people to build not just a career, but a life. (Indra Nooyi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo)

PepsiCo and other NBGH members are leaders in employee health and productivity. Whether it’s innovative leave programs, on-site health centers or a built environment that protects and promotes health, our members are making strides to maximize workforce potential.

The Business Group has several resources on employee health and well-being on our Well-being and Performance & Productivity webpages. 

And if you’re interested in participating in the conversation, join us in Austin at the Workforce Strategy 2017: Engaging for Change Conference September 26-28.

Sessions, such as A Culture of Well-being Wasn’t Built in a Day: How Three Employers are Strategically Transforming Their Organizations and Transforming the Workplace Environment to Create an Optimal Employee Experience, integrate industry experts and employer case studies to share practical strategies you can implement within your organization.