Food and Beverage: Clarence Otis, Jr. and Indra Nooyi

Clarence Otis, Jr. (Darden Restaurants, NYSE: DRI)

Clarence Otis, Jr. was born in Mississippi in 1956 but soon moved to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Always a standout student, Mr. Otis graduated from Williams College, Massachusetts with honors and took a law degree from Stanford. Mr. Otis began a career in corporate law but found finance more exciting, so he moved through a few management positions in banking. In 1995, Darden hired Mr. Otis as treasurer and he became CEO in 2004 (JRank).

When interviewed about leadership for the New York Times, Mr. Otis said his early involvement with theater helped him understand teamwork and many other leaders helped him recognize the importance of putting others first (Bryant). During a 2009 commencement address at his alma mater Williams College, Mr. Otis identified sustained curiosity, the ability to dream big dreams, and meaningful expertise as the methods for effective leadership and advised people to have fun in their work (Otis). When hiring, Mr. Otis seeks drive, passion, and comfort with unpredictable circumstances (Bryant). Mr. Otis recognizes that written business communications are more functional and less artful than his law background, but he is circumspect about how he communicates orally with people in order to better focus, inspire, and direct people (Bryant).

Mr. Otis recognizes that performance levels can change at different point’s in people’s careers and “a comprehensive talent review process enables you to identify people who have important experience and solid skills but may happen to be in a slump and need to be put on a new team or given a new assignment to fully leverage what they bring to the table” (Otis). In the 2010 Darden annual report, Mr. Otis understands the value of employee feedback when mentioning the responses to the “employee engagement survey results.”

Mr. Otis could have been negatively affected by his environment. “In the post-Watts period, Otis recalls being stopped and questioned by police several times a year because of the color of his skin” (Williams). Despite the difficulties, Mr. Otis followed the advice and training of many mentors, and, in a 2009 commencement address at Williams College, he specifically references a calculus professor who tutored him daily after class saying, “What struck me most, the most important statement Professor Oliver made about the legitimacy of my presence at Williams was not the tutoring; it was when he had me over to his home for Thanksgiving dinner that year” (Otis).

Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo, NYSE: PEP)

Indra Nooyi was born in India in 1955 and was educated there through college. In 1978, she immigrated to America and, after attaining a Master of Arts in Public and Private Management from Yale, she began her business career with Boston Consulting Group. From there, she moved through Motorola and Asea Brown Boveri to land at Pepsico in 1994. She was selected CEO of Pepsico in 2006 (CEO’s Way).

In 2008, Time Magazine’s Howard Schultz called Ms. Nooyi a “world class leader.” Ms. Nooyi has a direct and personal demeanor and she is open to colleague’s ideas as evidenced when she convinced her chief rival for the Pepsico Ceo position to stay with the company (CEO’s Way). Ms. Nooyi’s style has also been called irreverent because she embraces rather than hides her differences such as walking barefoot or singing in the office (Brady).

Indra Nooyi believes that businesspeople must seek success by acting in society’s interests. In the Pepsico 2010 annual report, Ms. Nooyi writes about the ongoing implementation of a “performance with purpose” program focusing on human sustainability, environmental sustainability, and talent that includes recycling, weight loss, and managerial training programs. For effective action, Ms. Nooyi recognizes that managers must think greener to reduce costs and attract young, conscious talent and managers must increase their emotional intelligence in order to retain the talent (Freeland).

Indra Nooyi was shaped by her family. During a recent visit with her mother in India, Ms. Nooyi was ignored at a family gathering while people approached her mother and said what a great daughter she had raised. Consequently, Ms. Nooyi realized how important family relations were and she wrote thank you letters to the parents of 29 senior executives (Freeland).

Sources:

Annual Reports: Darden Restaurants fiscal year 2010

Pepsico fiscal year 2010

Brady, Diane. “Indra Nooyi: Keeping Cool in Hot Water.” Bloomberg BusinessWeek. 6 pars. 11 June 2007. < www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_24/b4038067.htm>

CEO’s Way. “Indra Nooyi.” 6 pars. Undated. <www.enkalam.com/corporate/indra-nooyi.html>

Freeland, Grant. “Indra Nooyi.” Boston Consulting Group. Video interview transcription exerpts. 29 pars. Undated. < leadership.bcg.com/americas/nooyi.aspx>

JRank. “Clarence Otis, Jr. Biography.” Net Industries. 10 pars. Undated. <biography.jrank. org/pages/2927/Otis-Clarence-Jr.html>

Otis, Clarence, Jr. “Talent Management.” Washington Post: On Management. 1 par. 26 January 2009. <views.washingtonpost.com/leadership/panelists/2009/01/talent-management.html>

“Commencement Address.” Williams College. 31 pars. 07 June 2009. <http://web. williams.edu/home/commencement/2009/otis.php>

Schultz, Howard. “The 2008 Time 100.” Time. 2 pars. 30 April 2009. <www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1733748_1733758,00.html>

Williams, Shawn. “The Story of Clarence Otis Jr. – Darden CEO Leads Red Lobster and Olive Garden.” Dallas South. 6 pars. 10 January 2008. <dallassouthblog.com/2008/01/10/the-story-of-clarence-otis-jr-darden-ceo-leads-red-lobster-and-olive-garden>


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