PepsiCo CEO Recalls Her Mother's Shocking Reaction To Her Becoming Company President

by Katie Gonzalez

Women face a lot of pressures in society, but it seems like many of these pressures are imposed by other women.

After Sheryl Sandberg's rallying cry instructing working women to "Lean in," females of all industries have attempted to strike the elusive work-life balance that Sandberg has seemingly mastered — all while climbing the corporate ladder to new heights.

But in a very honest and very personal story, PepsiCo CEO Indra K. Nooyi issued a different telling of female success: She's saying that "having it all" is impossible, and her attempts to cement the senior leadership position she has today weighed heavily on her as she admits she wasn't always the most attentive and present wife and mother.

In a question and answer forum with The Atlantic, Nooyi comes clean about how her drive and ambition in the workplace eroded at her familial relationships despite her best efforts and the privilege she had with the financial means to provide those she loved with materials in place of their mother.

Nooyi said her own mom gave her advice when she was first promoted to PepsiCo president and placed on the Board of Directors. Her mother forced her to go out and buy milk for the family, despite the fact that her husband and at-home help were around.

When Nooyi arrived back from the grocery store, her mother reminded her of how her priorities should change when she came home each night:

And she said to me, 'let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you're the wife, you're the daughter, you're the daughter-in-law, you're the mother. You're all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don't bring it into the house.'

Still, Nooyi said she struggled to prioritize, and often had to miss her daughters' school engagements and upset her husband who always seemed to be at the end of her list.

Nooyi's revelations are a little hard to read for women with ambition to make it to the upper echelons of the business world, but also know they want a family along the way.

She warns that women "pretend" to have it all figured out, but her own experiences clearly show there's an immense amount of guilt in success.

Still, it's important to hear these stories that don't paint an overly-optimistic scene for women.

It certainly won't be easy for females to work and attend to their families, but it sounds like Nooyi, despite the disappointments and missed parent-teacher meetings, wouldn't have it any other way.

How to prioritize and what to put first is clearly a decision each woman has to make on her own, and needs to accept.

H/T: The Atlantic