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Indian designer Anita Dongre helps raise $570,000 for Singapore charities
REPORT ON PAGE 4
Anita Dongre (in black)
with models dipslaying her
clothes at the Gala Of Light.
MCI (P) 078/03/2019
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
OCTOBER 11, 2019
HRITHIK TO RAISE
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Defence Minister performs Shastra Puja
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh performing
Shastra Puja (a ritual in which weapons are
worshipped), after India formally took
delivery of the first of the 36 long-awaited
French-made Rafale fighter jets acquired by
the Indian Air Force.
During a ceremony at French
manufacturer Dassault Aviation’s factory in
Merignac, near Bordeaux, on Tuesday,
Mr Singh wrote an “Om” on the jet and
offered flowers and a coconut on the
occasion of Vijayadashami, a widely
celebrated festival in India.
He later went on a sortie in the
Kerala woman admits
poisoning six family members
A woman in Kerala has confessed
to poisoning six members of her
family over a 14-year period by
adding cyanide to their food.
Police began investigations
earlier this year when the
brother-in-law of 47-year-old
suspect Jolly Thomas became
suspicious that she may have
forged his parents’ will.
Authorities discovered that
Ms Thomas, who is currently in
judicial custody, had been at the
scene of all six deaths, and that
each death had occurred after
eating a meal she had prepared.
She was allegedly motivated by
wanting control of the family
finances and property, police said.
1,400km great ‘green wall’
The federal government is mulling an
ambitious plan to create a 1,400km
long and 5km wide green belt from
Gujarat to the Delhi-Haryana border
as part of India’s efforts to deal with
land degradation and the eastward
march of the Thar desert.
The project intends to counter
climate change and desertification
and is inspired by Africa’s “Great
Green Wall” from Dakar to Djibouti.
MP school designed as train to
Authorities in Madhya Pradesh’s
tribal-dominated Dindori district has
designed a government school to look
like a train with the aim of attracting
The under-developed area has no
rail connectivity. So, keeping in mind
children’s attraction to trains,
Ms Santosh Uikey, the headmistress
of the secondary school in Khajri,
turned the building into a train
Moody’s cuts GDP growth forecast
Moody’s Investors Service has slashed its
2019-20 GDP growth forecast for India
to 5.8 per cent from 6.2 per cent earlier,
saying the economy was experiencing a
pronounced slowdown which is partly
related to long-lasting factors.
The projection is lower than the 6.1
per cent that the Reserve Bank of India
had forecast just last week. Moody’s had
lowered the growth forecast to 6.2 per
cent from 6.8 per cent in August.
The second informal summit between
Chinese President Xi Jinping and In-
dia’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi
will be held at Tamil Nadu’s Mamalla-
It will see the two leaders visit
some of the UNESCO World Heritage
sites there and attend a cultural pro-
gramme presented by Kalakshetra.
The Chinese President will arrive
post-noon (Indian time) today in Chen-
nai, which is 50km from Mamallapu-
The two leaders will then meet in
the evening at Mamallapuram, with
Mr Modi scheduled to take President
Xi around some of the major histori-
cal sites of the ancient port town built
by the Pallava rulers.
They will then have dinner and
attend a cultural programme.
The two leaders will hold the
second round of discussions between
their delegations tomorrow at the
Fisherman’s Cove hotel, after which
Mr Xi will depart at 2pm (Indian
There will be no formal ceremony
or signing of documents.
The Indian side will also have
Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar and
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval
at the talks. Chinese Foreign Minister
Wang Yi will also be present.
Mamallapuram was chosen as the
venue for the talks because both
Mr Xi and Mr Modi share a keen
interest in history and culture.
The Indian Prime Minister is also
keen that places other than New Delhi
should be showcased to visiting digni-
Mamallapuram also shares a con-
nection with China as Buddhist monk
Hiuen Tsang visited the place in the
The seaside centre also hosted
sailors from the Chinese port town of
Evidence of the links between the
two countries have been found in the
form of pottery and other relics found
Indo-Asian News Service
Modi-Xi talks near
ancient port town
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung visiting
Mamallapuram last week.
October 11, 2019
Executive Editor, The Straits Times
Indra Nooyi just wants a freshly squeezed orange
juice for lunch and you can feel the disappointment
of the waiter. Over the next one hour, he tries
several times to tempt her to eat.
Mushroom? He asks at the start of our meal. She
shakes her head.
Beetroot? She shakes it again.
“Nothing for you, ma’am?”
“Nothing,” she smiles at him. “I’m not hungry.”
Lamb? He tries when he comes round again.
“I’m a vegetarian,” she tells him. “Oh sorry,” he
says, crestfallen. “You are vegetarian.”
She asks him for his name and he says he’s
Vikram, from New Delhi. She puts Vikram out of his
misery and says she will have a little piece of naan
from the plate he’s holding.
He is delighted, then concerned.
She laughs. “You leave it here. You’re very
Lunch with the former CEO and chairman of
PepsiCo is at the Tiffin Room in the newly-refur-
bished Raffles Hotel. The restaurant serves a North
Indian buffet lunch. Waiters also go round the tables
Mrs Nooyi, 63, was in town last month for the
Women’s Forum Asia.
In the world of C-suiters, she’s something of a
legend and certainly an inspiration, not just to
women and immigrants, but CEOs too.
She’s one of the rarefied few who have attained
the fame – and salary – to match that of rock stars,
actors and professional athletes.
She reportedly earned US$31 million in 2017
alone. Her life has been exhaustively written about
and she’s one CEO people want to take selfies with.
Born in Chennai in India, she went to the United
States on a scholarship and stayed on to work.
In 1994, she joined PepsiCo, the American
multinational food, snack and beverage giant behind
brands like Pepsi, Lay’s potato chips and Gatorade.
She became its CEO in 2006, one of the few
women heading a Fortune 500 company, and later
chairman of the board as well.
She has consistently made it to lists like world’s
best CEOs and 100 most powerful women.
When she retired in October last year, PepsiCo’s
revenue had grown from US$35 billion in 2006 to
US$63.5 billion in 2017.
She is also known for her visionary leadership.
She spearheaded PepsiCo’s transition to a greener,
more environmentally aware company, and stressed
the shift towards healthier food to pre-empt the
trend away from sugary drinks.
As CEO, she famously wrote more than 400
letters of thanks each year to the parents of her
Mr Tan Chin Hwee, CEO Asia Pacific, of
independent oil trader Trafigura, remembers how
she gave the 2003 commencement speech at Yale
School of Management which he attended.
“She encouraged us ‘to do well and to do good’
and reminded us of our moral obligation to society.”
Lunch is at 12.30pm. I’m early and luckily so
because she arrives 10 minutes ahead of time.
Joining us for lunch is her Washington-based adviser
Juleanna Glover, CEO of consultancy Ridgely Walsh.
At 1.75m tall and with a luxuriant head of hair
worn in a short style, Mrs Nooyi cuts a striking
figure. She’s wearing a printed silk blouse over slim
trousers and carries a dainty, silver mesh bag.
She has the self-assured air of someone who has
known success for a long time and is comfortable in
her own skin. But while her presence is command-
ing, her vibe is kindly and warm. She smiles a lot.
She’s not eating because she had breakfast after a
morning event. She urges Ms Glover and me to eat.
“Go ahead, go get your meal, I’ll watch all your
Retirement is suiting her well, she reports when
we return with laden plates. She lives in Greenwich,
Connecticut, with her husband Raj K. Nooyi. They
have two grown-up daughters, Preetha and Tara.
When not travelling, she plays tennis in the
morning, then heads to a nearby office where the
family business is conducted. She has a full-time
assistant and several part-time staff and her husband
manages the business.
She sits on boards like Amazon, teaches at West
Point, is on the International Cricket Council, gives
speeches around the world, helps the state of
Connecticut attract businesses, reads a lot and is
writing a book. She is also learning ballroom
dancing, which has always been on her bucket list.
It’s all a long way from Chennai in Tamil Nadu,
where she was born Indra Krishnamurthy in 1955.
She grew up in a big house with lots of uncles, aunts
Education was a top priority in the family. Her
paternal grandfather was a judge and maternal
grandfather an advocate. Her father, who had a
master’s in mathematics, did internal audit in a bank.
Her mother didn’t have the means to go to college
but “has a PhD in her head... she is brilliant”.
She remembers the adults helping the children
with homework and preparing problem sheets for
them to practise. “It was pretty much the world of
Her two siblings, who live in the US now, are also
very successful. Her older sister Chandrika Tandon
is a businesswoman, philanthropist and Grammy-
nominated musician. Her younger brother runs a
Mrs Nooyi got an undergraduate degree majoring
in chemistry at Madras Christian College and an
MBA at the Indian Institute of Management in
She shares a childhood tidbit when I ask if she
has always had short hair. She used to have two
pigtails but one day while doing a chemistry
experiment, one of the pigtails dipped into some
acid and her hair was singed.
“I used that as an excuse to cut it off,” she laughs.
“Best thing I did. Easy to manage.”
She worked for a while, including at Johnson &
Johnson. In 1978, she applied to and was accepted
by Yale University’s Graduate School of Manage-
ment to do her second master’s in public and private
“The US at that time was the beacon of hope,
beacon of all the great things happening in the
world, and to come to the US was extremely
aspirational.” She reportedly worked as an overnight
receptionist to make ends meet while at Yale.
She met Mr Nooyi while working a summer job
in Chicago in 1979. He was a year older, from the
west coast of India and had furthered his studies in
the US. Their family backgrounds were similar.
“I’d never dated anybody before. I don’t believe
he had dated anybody before. It just happened. We
decided at the end of the summer we were going to
get married.” She took his surname. Her much
adored father died of cancer around that time.
“He came to my wedding and it was wonderful
that he was alive at my wedding. Year after, he
She pauses then adds: “I miss him even today.”
She stayed on in the US, joined the Boston
Consulting Group, and later, Motorola and Asea
Brown Boveri in strategy roles before moving to
PepsiCo. She did corporate strategy, became part of
senior management and was involved in the com-
PepisCo had exited non-core business in the late
1990s to focus on its snack food and beverage lines.
Those were exciting days with acquisitions like
orange juice company Tropicana and a merger with
On the home front, her mother moved to the US
to help look after her daughters. She is very close to
her mum, who lives with her brother in New York.
Several times during the interview, she speaks
about what a good man her husband is. Mr Nooyi’s
background is in engineering and he was president
of a custom e-solutions company. He now works
with her in the family business.
“My husband gave up a lot to allow me to do
what I was doing, so I’d always be grateful to him,
always, always, always.”
I wonder if it was ambition that got her so far. “I
don’t know if it was ambition,” she says.
What was always at the back of her mind was
how she was an immigrant in the US.
“I wanted to work hard because as an immigrant,
you always have an immigrant’s fear,” she says.
“I just wanted to work hard and do well because
I wanted to make my family proud. And one thing
led to another.” She adds: “It was never about how
am I going to get the next two jobs. It was how do I
keep the job I have and do it well.”
At what point did she realise she was really
successful? When she started getting those huge
“Sumiko,” she laughs. “Anytime I got a salary, I
thought it was huge, trust me. Because remember I
came from nothing. So anytime I got a promotion
and a big raise, I say: ‘Wow, I got lots of money’...
We were just grateful for what we have, always,
There must have been career setbacks, I say.
“Setbacks happen if you expect it to go a certain
way and it doesn’t go a certain way,” she points out.
“I didn’t have any expectations of it going
anywhere. I just felt so long as I was doing a great
job, everything would take care of itself.” She learnt
along the way and had great mentors “who pulled
Female mentors? She says there weren’t many
senior women in the workplace then. “They were all
men and they were wonderfully supportive.”
How did she divide her roles as CEO?
“I would say 30 to 40 per cent of my brain was
on talent and people, another 30 to 40 per cent on
strategy in the future, about 30 to 40 per cent on the
operations and 30 to 40 per cent on brand. So I
have 200 per cent of my brain on the company,” she
“There are days you only think about talent,
there are days you only think about strategy, days
you only think about operations. So you have to be
able to zoom out, zoom in, zoom out, constantly.”
She especially relished the role of CEO as
“supporter, coach, mentor”.
“I’ll teach them all the things that I learnt to get
to where I was.”
She speaks highly of her successor, Mr Ramon
Laguarta, a long-time PepsiCo executive.
When I ask if she was disappointed she wasn’t
succeeded by a woman, she says Mr Laguarta was
the best person for the job.
She believes that for a company to be successful,
it must pick the best and the brightest men and
women to work for it. The top job should go to the
best person, regardless of gender.
But it is also important that companies have an
environment where men and women have equal
chances to succeed.
“We want to create a level playing field that both
can be successful, and that’s really what I tried to do
at PepsiCo,” she says.
“It’s good for the country, it’s good for companies
and it’s good for women.”
To get more women CEOs, the pipeline needs to
be built. “You can’t suddenly get a CEO, you have
to build a CEO.”
Ms Glover signals that we need to wrap up soon.
I slip in the question I need to ask Mrs Nooyi.
Do you drink Coke? “What’s that?” she shoots
back, laughing. I suppose that’s the reply you always
give, I remark.
No, she says. “I always say the beverage industry
is blessed with incredible, iconic brands, great
tasting products. Theirs is a product, ours is a
product, slightly different taste, and I happen to like
our taste.” We have about enough time for dessert.
Vikram returns with a sample plate and is pleased
to see her help herself to laddu, a floury sweet.
Encouraged, he asks: “Fruit too?”
She smiles and declines.
“The wonderful thing is, now I can do only what
I want to do, not what I have to do. It’s a great
place to be in,” she says before she leaves.
“I want to help all kinds of people. I want to
help women get to the next level. I’m much more
focused on paying it forward.”
Seeing her tall figure striding off, I think to
myself that having the smarts, then working super
hard at whatever job she was given, really paid off
‘Immigrant’s fear’ made Indra succeed
Mrs Indra Nooyi, who is known for her visionary leadership, says she relished the role of CEO as “supporter, coach, mentor”
as she could teach others all the things she had learnt to get to where she was.
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