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Indra Nooyi’s advice for women who want to be CEOs

June 24, 2021, 10:34 AM UTC

Good morning.

Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi opened up the Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit yesterday with two pieces of advice for women who want to be CEOs:

“First, understand the politics in your organization, but don’t play the politics in your organization.”

“Second, put up your hand for tough assignments. No one will remember you for taking a successful business and maintaining it.”

Nooyi also said she believes the 2020s “has to be the decade all of us sit down and say what are we going to do to harness the power of women.”

“I look at all the statistics. Seventy percent of high school valedictorians are women. More than 50% of college graduates are women…Then I find that only 7% of CEOs are women, and only 2% of VC money is going to women. Talk about emerging markets! One of the biggest emerging market opportunities we have in the U.S. is women.”

As for lessons from the pandemic, she had this to say:

“The biggest thing that happened during the pandemic is that we all learned that disruption is here to say. I don’t believe this pandemic is a one off. We could have other things that come our way. It could be cybersecurity. It could be lots of things…As a company leader, just assume you are going to have to undergo transformational change.”

Some more samplings from yesterday’s discussions:

“Health is really taboo in the workplace, and I think it’s even more taboo for women because we already have so much to prove that we deserve to be in these positions of power…So anything that creates any doubt, around our ability to perform is a risk for women.”
Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook App

“[The pandemic] showcased why it was critical to have multiple access points…If the customer was stuck at home, you need to reach them, not them you. We recognized our core priority is to become more accessible. We’ve got to be able to get to our customers through multiple channels.”
Tabassum Zalotrawala, Chipotle’s chief development officer

“The pandemic is requiring us to have [a] conversation about mental wellness that we would never have [otherwise] had in the workplace.”
Monika Means, IBM’s vice president of transformation

More coverage from the Next Gen event here, and more news below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray

alan.murray@fortune.com

TOP NEWS

R.I.P. McAfee

John McAfee, founder of the eponymous cybersecurity firm, was found dead in his Spanish prison cell yesterday, hours after a court approved his extradition to the U.S. on tax charges. Authorities say he most likely died by suicide. One of the most colorful entrepreneurs in history, McAfee was a true software pioneer, a notorious hedonist, a possible murderer, a fugitive, a U.S. presidential candidate and, inevitably, a cryptocurrency promoter. Fortune

COVID-19 data

U.S. officials have confirmed that, last June, a Chinese researcher successfully asked for genetic data about early novel coronavirus samples to be removed from an American database, where the researcher had submitted the data for storage a few months previously. Fortune

Gas prices

Russia's quiet limitations on top-up sales have, combined with a supply shortage, helped drive European natural gas prices to a 13-year high. Gazprom's exports to continental Europe have dropped by around a fifth, compared to pre-pandemic levels. It may be about profit maximization, but it does also come at a time of geopolitical tension. Financial Times

Tech regulation

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has approved new antitrust legislation that would force large online platforms to enable data-porting to rival platforms, and that would outlaw dominant platforms' acquisitions of companies that threaten them competitively. All this still needs to go through the full House, though, and it goes without saying that this is a lobbying fiesta. Fortune

AROUND THE WATER COOLER

Pfizer's Bourla

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla had a conversation with Fortune's Erika Fry about the company's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in particular production advances and contract negotiations. Here he is on the question of the mooted vaccine IP waiver, which he of course opposes: "The better solution is what we are doing, which is offering [the vaccine] at prices that everybody can buy. And we are building enough manufacturing capacity for all. Right now, the bottlenecks for anyone to produce, including us, is not IP; it’s that there are no raw materials…I think it’s politically motivated, all these discussions." Fortune

BuzzFeed SPAC

BuzzFeed will reportedly go public via a merger with a SPAC named after the headquarters of Marvel's Avengers, then go on a spending spree. WSJ

Crypto mining

China's crackdown on Bitcoin mining—90% of its mining capacity has reportedly been taken out—could make mining (i.e. getting new coins by solving pointless calculations at the expense of lots of energy) easier and more profitable for people outside the country. That's because Chinese miners accounted for a huge share of the Bitcoin network, and their absence effectively lowers the difficulty of solving those (again, useless) sums. CNBC

Branson parties

“There were thousands of us all partying,” Richard Branson told Fortune after a mask-free party in Vegas, to celebrate the months-ago opening of the Virgin Hotel. “Nobody had masks on, and I think it’s fine. The rebellion [against masks] has happened, and everyone is getting back to normal now." Let's hope he's right, though less than half of Nevada's adult population has been even half-vaccinated, and numbers are creeping up. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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