PepsiCo’s CEO stepping down

PURCHASE, N.Y. — With Indra Nooyi exiting PepsiCo as its longtime chief executive, the circle of CEOs in the Fortune 500 is losing one of its highest profile women.

Nooyi, who was born in India, is a rarity on Wall Street as a woman and a minority leading a Fortune 500 company. She oversaw PepsiCo during a turbulent time in the industry that has forced food giants including Coca-Cola Co., Campbell Soup Co. and Oreo maker Mondelez International Inc. to adapt to changing tastes. All those companies changed CEOs in roughly the last year.

At PepsiCo Inc., Nooyi stressed the company’s move toward “good for you” options that people don’t feel as guilty eating, such as Baked Lay’s potato chips and Naked juices made of fruits and vegetables. The company has not abandoned sugary sodas or more indulgent snacks.

Nooyi, 62, has been with PepsiCo Inc. for 24 years and held the top job for 12.

Another PepsiCo veteran, Ramon Laguarta, will take over as chief executive in October, the company said Monday. Nooyi will remain as chairwoman until early next year.

“Growing up in India, I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to lead such an extraordinary company,” Nooyi said in a statement Monday.

Nooyi began her career in India with positions at companies including Johnson & Johnson. She later attended Yale School of Management.

The percentage of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 has climbed slowly over the years and broke the 5 percent mark just last year, according to Catalyst, which promotes women in the workplace. The Fortune 500 includes the largest companies based on revenue.