Leading with Character: A Conversation with Indra Nooyi and Col. Everett Spain

How can leaders across industries cultivate good character within their teams and among peers? Nasdaq explores this topic, and much more, in the latest episode of World Reimagined, a leadership podcast for a changing world.

Leaders model behavior and inspire others to emulate them in their personal lives and on a bigger scale. Just as we have a choice to do the right thing in our personal lives, business leaders have that choice at work. Many strive to be people of good character in all aspects of their lives. But, what does it really mean to be a person of good character? Or, from a business perspective, a company of character? If character is the critical component of ethical leadership, how do we cultivate it in ourselves and in our organizations?

In this episode, Gautam Mukunda speaks with the Head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point and Soldier’s Medal recipient, Col. Everett Spain and the legendary former CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi about how today’s leaders can model courage to do the right thing.

The character of a corporation is not the personality. The character of a corporation is the integrity and morality of the company. How much does the company believe in the betterment of society? How much does the company believe it cannot succeed at the expense of society? That is the true character of a corporation. I don’t want us to lose sight of that.

Indra Nooyi

Follow @GMukunda on Twitter

Books Referenced in World Reimagined Episode 7:

The Arc of Ambition, by James A. Champy and Nitin Nohria

2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything, by Mauro F. Guillén

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond

How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi

The Captain Class: The Hidden Force that Creates the World’s Greatest Teams, by Sam Walker

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, by Marshall Rosenberg

The Colored Cadet At West Point: Autobiography of Lieut. Henry Ossian Flipper, U. S. A., first graduate of color from the U. S. Military Academy, by Henry Ossian Flipper 

World Reimagined Guest Information — Leading with Character:

Colonel Everett Spain is a Professor, USMA, and the 7th Head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point. Everett has served with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq, V Corps in Europe, 1st Infantry Division in Kosovo, Multi-National Force-Iraq, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, and as a White House Fellow under the Bush and Obama Administrations. A native of Pensacola, Florida, Everett received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering from West Point, a Master of Business Administration from Duke’s Fuqua School, and a Doctor of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He actively researches and writes about talent management. Additionally, he serves as a senior advisor to the Army Talent Management Task Force, is the president of the Harvard Veterans Alumni Organization 501(c)(3), and volunteers as a Holocaust Legacy Partner. Everett and his spouse Julia live at West Point and enjoy raising their four children, including a West Point cadet, a college freshman enrolled in Army ROTC, and two high school sophomores.

Indra Nooyi is the former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo (2006-2019); a Fortune 50 company with operations in over 180 countries.

In this role, Mrs. Nooyi was the chief architect of Performance with Purpose, PepsiCo’s pledge to do what’s right for the business by being responsive to the needs of the world around us. As part of Performance with Purpose, PepsiCo was focused on delivering sustained growth by making more nutritious products, limiting its environmental footprint and protecting the planet, and empowering its associates and people in the communities it serves. During her tenure, PepsiCo grew net revenue by more than 80%, and PepsiCo’s total shareholder return was 162%.

Before joining PepsiCo in 1994 Mrs. Nooyi held senior positions at The Boston Consulting Group, Motorola, and Asea Brown Boveri.

Currently, Mrs. Nooyi is a member of the board of Amazon and sits on the Audit Committee. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Memorial Sloan Kettering, she is a member of the International Advisory Council of Temasek, an independent director of the International Cricket Council, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She is also a Dean’s Advisory Council member at MIT’s School of Engineering and a member of the MIT Corporation. Additionally, she is the Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership at West Point.

Mrs. Nooyi has received many prizes, accolades, and honorary degrees over the years. In 2007, the Government of India awarded her the Padma Bhushan, the country’s 3rd highest civilian honor. In 2007, she was named an “Outstanding American by choice” by the U.S. State Department. In 2019, her portrait was inducted into the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

She holds a B.S. from Madras Christian College, an M.B.A. from the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta, and a Master of Public and Private Management from Yale University. Mrs. Nooyi is married and has two daughters.