Skip to main content

Highlights | Leadership lessons

  • Lisa Brandenburg recently discussed women in leadership in a conversation with Indra Nooyi.
  • Nooyi is a first-generation immigrant to the U.S., corporate director of Amazon, mom, author, and former CEO and chair of PepsiCo.
  • Nooyi’s keys to leadership include mentorship, advocating for change, juggling work and family, and prioritizing diversity and inclusion.

On Nov. 8 a small group of women leaders from throughout UW Medicine and the philanthropic community met for a conversation on women in leadership.

Lisa Brandenburg, president of UW Medicine Hospitals and Clinics, spoke with Indra Nooyi, the corporate director of Amazon and former CEO and chair of PepsiCo (2006-2019) about the lessons she learned from her lifetime of leadership.

Nooyi is a first-generation immigrant to the U.S. and has become one of the most sought-after advisors to entrepreneurs, executives and governments. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the Padma Bhushan (boo-shan), India’s third highest civilian honor; the U.S. State Department’s award for Outstanding American by Choice; and 15 honorary degrees.

She and her husband Raj Nooyi have raised two daughters, Preetha and Tara, and her memoir “My Life in Full: Work, Family and Our Future” details how our society can blend work and family — and advance women in the 21st century.

Here are Nooyi’s top leadership insights from the conversation with Brandenburg.

On mentorship

Nooyi stresses the importance of mentorship, especially for women and other underrepresented leaders. Mentorship allows you to not only make it to the table, but also be heard and listened to once you are there.

“One way Nooyi recommended women can find mentors is to think about their personal brand and value. Ask yourself, ‘What is that I do better than others and makes people want my insight?’ If you focus on creating this, you will stand out and mentors will find you,” Brandenburg says.

On juggling work and family

Many leaders, Nooyi included, must find a way to balance both work and family responsibilities — a juggling act that has only become more complicated during the pandemic.

For Nooyi, juggling the two looked like implementing paid family leave and supporting women and parents in the workplace so that they can have rich lives at work and home.

On advocating for change

To Nooyi, it is the call and responsibility of women leaders to come together so they can unify their voices and advocate for change.

“Nooyi’s example shows that when women join together in the workforce and national arena, they can create infrastructure that supports all employees,” Brandenburg says.

By advocating for change, together we can support employees with children and aging parents and ultimately create a better and more accessible workplace and culture for everyone.

On diversifying the workplace

Diversity and inclusion work is essential and creates a workplace where every employee feels engaged and included.

“Through her work at PepsiCo, Nooyi encouraged her company to go beyond just increasing employee and leadership diversity numbers to creating a truly inclusive culture,” Brandenburg says.

To be inclusive, Nooyi notes that you can’t focus solely on diversifying your workplace, but you must also become inclusive in your home life and in how you engage with the world.

“Nooyi was incredibly inspiring. Her leadership and work make her a true role model for all of us, women and men,” Brandenburg says.

Thank you to the UW Medicine Advancement team for hosting the event.