Case Study: Leadership In A Crisis

Indra Nooyi

Lesson time 11:56 min

Indra provides insight into crisis management at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when she was brought on board a task force to reopen the state of Connecticut and strike a careful balance between saving businesses and keeping everyone safe.

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Topics include: In this case study, Indra provides insight into crisis management as she experienced it at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when she was brought on board to reopen Connecticut and strike a careful balance between saving businesses and keeping everyone safe.


- So it was 2020 March, and COVID is raging. And I get a call from the governor of Connecticut saying, Indra, I want you to co-chair Reopen Connecticut. - One of several big school districts in Connecticut closing down indefinitely because of fears over the coronavirus. INDRA NOOYI: And until then, I didn't know what COVID was. And all that I knew was that the state had gone into lockdown. And pretty much, the world was going into lockdown in phases. It was a scary moment. [MUSIC PLAYING] - You know, I've shared a lot about performance of purpose. Performance of purpose is a broad strategic direction that was over multi-years, multi pillars, multi initiatives, and had to be sold into PepsiCo and get buy-in through the rank and file, and then we had to implement it over a couple of decades. What I want to talk about now is a different sort of an initiative. It's crisis management. It's very different than setting a broad direction, because in crisis management, you don't have time to think about the strategy. You don't have time to sell it into many people. You've got to develop the direction with the best information you have, give it to the people who then can do something with it. But it's got to be done fast. And in both cases, I must tell you, there are some commonalities. Bring the experts to the table. Resource them adequately. Make sure they practice competence, curiosity, they have courage and confidence to stand by their decisions. They have incredible communication skills. And they have a great sense of citizenship. My first task was to get to know my team. I was one of two co-chairs of Reopen Connecticut, along with Albert Ko, who was the head of Public Health at Yale. - Even if you're socially distanced within six feet, the more time that you're spending indoors, have circulation of air, you have risk to the general people. INDRA NOOYI: I never met Albert Ko before, so I called him up and I said, Albert, I'm coming up to Yale. I need to understand all about public health and COVID and transmission rates and what the hell is going on. And I'll teach you all about businesses and why they need to stay open. Because from my perspective, people without livelihoods get sick in a different way. Could be because it's mental stress, it's fear about no income. Through COVID, there was a lot of domestic violence. That starts to impact families too. So we're going to have an interesting dialogue because I want to keep businesses open. You want to protect the public. And for the next four hours, Albert gave me a lecture on public health, transmission curves, contact tracing. Then he recommended some articles and books I could read if I wanted to know more, because I realized that unless I knew something about COVID the virus, we wouldn't be able to open businesses. Again, goes back to, remember we talked about hip pocket skill? Taking the complex, simplifying it. I committed my tim...

About the Instructor

Ever wonder what it takes to be the CEO of a Fortune 50 company? Indra Nooyi didn’t set out to become the first woman of color to do so. She simply (and tenaciously) focused on big ideas. As the former CEO of PepsiCo, Indra transformed a global industry. Now she’s teaching you her transformational approach to leadership. Learn to simplify complex problems, persuade others to buy into your vision, and discover how leading with purpose can improve your life beyond the boardroom.

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Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo, teaches you to think big, be brave, and make purpose-driven changes at work.

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