When Indian PM and US President Both Claimed Indra Nooyi Is One of Theirs

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Indian-American Indra Nooyi, the former chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo, still vividly remembers a 2009 meeting with the then US president Barack Obama and former prime minister Manmohan Singh during which both claimed: “she is one of us”.

I belong in both worlds, Chennai-born Nooyi, 65, writes in her new memoir My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future, recollecting the memorable events of November 2009 when Obama had hosted Singh for his first state dinner.

In the memoir, set to hit the bookstores next Tuesday, Nooyi describes the events that shaped her life from childhood to her becoming Pepsico CEO, a position from which she retired in 2018.

One foggy Tuesday in November 2009, after hours of meetings in Washington, DC, with two dozen top US and Indian business executives, I found myself standing between the president of the United States and the prime minister of India, she writes in the introduction of the memoir that runs into over 300 pages.

Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh had entered the room for an update on our group’s progress, and President Obama began introducing the American team to his Indian counterpart. When he got to meIndra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCoPrime Minister Singh exclaimed, Oh! But she is one of us!

And the president, with a big smile and without missing a beat, responded, Ah, but she is one of us, too!

It’s a moment I never forget spontaneous kindness from the leaders of the two great countries that have given me so much, Nooyi writes in the memoir, an advance copy of which was obtained by PTI.