Global leadership lessons from PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi
PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi has stood at the helm of the business for seven years and during her tenure has introduced pivotal changes, which have truly shaped the image and direction of the international drinks brand. Early on in her role of chief executive, Nooyi introduced the mantra ‘Performance with Purpose’, which would become central to PepsiCo’s journey. But this is not the only pearl of wisdom Nooyi has offered to the business and the industry as a whole. She is an enthusiastic, headstrong and well-admired leader and Manufacturing Global uncovers five lessons all manufacturing CEOs can learn from her global leadership style in the 21st century.
- Balance the short-term and long-term. Leaders today often fall into the trap of focusing on short-term quarterly results, yielding decisions that are counterproductive for the longer-term health of the organization. According to Nooyi, effective leaders must strike a balance. Of course it goes without saying that they need to produce results in the short term, however, their decisions must consider longer-term goals as well.
- Develop a deep understanding of public/private partnerships. Nooyi points out that many private sector leaders treat the public sector (NGOs and governments) as the enemy - and visa versa. “Stiff arming them is simply not going to work,” she once said. Instead she advocates “walking a mile in their shoes,” and believes that NGO leaders do their jobs as a “labor of love.” Treating them with respect and understanding, as opposed to distain and condescension can go a long way.
- Think global, act local. It may sound like a tired cliché, by Nooyi argues this is sound advice that can yield innovative, out-of-the box solutions.
- Keep an open mind to adapt to changes. Nooyi is a huge advocate of Socratic learning - the art of asking probing questions to facilitate dialog and exploration. All-too-often, leaders close their minds to opposition, cutting off much needed debate. To lead in an ever-changing world, Nooyi says, leaders must adapt, stay nimble and be willing to listen to those around them.
- Lead with your head and your heart. Leaders must develop deep emotional intelligence, and bring “their whole selves to work every day,” says Nooyi. She believes wholeheartedly in treating employees as unique human beings and believes this approach strengthens the business. Nooyi once famously wrote letters to the parents of her entire top executive team, telling them how proud they should be about the work of their offspring. This unconventional act created an outpouring of emotion, and more deeply connected her executive team to the company mission - tapping into their underlying passions and sense of purpose.
Fluent.ai x BSH: Voice Automating the Assembly Line
Fluent.ai has deployed its voice recognition solutions in one of BSH’s German factories. BSH leads the market in producing connected appliances—its brands include Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau, NEFF, and Thermador, and with this new partnership, the company intends to cut transition time in its assembly lines.
According to BSH, voice automation will yield 75-100% efficiency gains—but it’s the collaboration between the two companies that stands out. ‘After considering 11 companies for this partnership, we chose Fluent.ai because of their key competitive differentiators’, explained Ion Hauer, Venture Partner at BSH Startup Kitchen.
What Sets Fluent.ai Apart?
After seven years of research, the company developed a wide range of artificial intelligence (AI) software products to help original equipment manufacturers (OEM) expand their services. Three key aspects stood out to BSH, which operates across the world and in unique factory environments.
- Robust noise controls. The system can operate even in loud conditions.
- Low latency. The AI understands commands quickly and accurately.
- Multilingual support. BSH can expand the automation to any of its 50+ country operations.
How Voice Automation Works
Instead of pressing buttons, BSH factory workers will now be able to speak into a headset fitted with Fluent.ai’s voice recognition technology. After uttering a WakeWord, workers can use a command to start assembly line movement. As the technology is hands-free, workers benefit from less physical strain, which will both reduce employee fatigue and boost line production.
‘Implementing Fluent’s technology has already improved efficiencies within our factory, with initial implementation of the solution cutting down the transition time from four seconds to one and a half”, said Markus Maier, Project Lead at the BSH factory. ‘In the long run, the production time savings will be invaluable’.
Future Global Adoption
In the coming years, BSH and Fluent.ai will continue to push for artificial intelligence on factory lines, pursuing efficiency, ergonomics, and a healthy work environment. ‘We started with Fluent.ai on one factory assembly line, moved to three, and [are now] considering rolling the technology out worldwide’, said Maier.
Said Probal Lala, Fluent.ai’s CEO: ‘We are thrilled to be working with BSH, a company at the forefront of innovation. Seeing your solution out in the real world is incredibly rewarding, and we look forward to continuing and growing our collaboration’.