Could Roger A. Enrico really be willing to give up the limelight? At 56, Enrico still enjoys a good late-night party, crooning Sinatra tunes on the karaoke machine that PepsiCo Chief Financial Officer Indra K. Nooyi gave him--and running the world's second-largest soft drink concern. But when Enrico announced PepsiCo's (PEP) $13 billion acquisition of Quaker Oats Co. (OAT) in December, he surprised many by saying that he would step down as CEO in the spring, when the Quaker deal was done. He will become one of two PepsiCo vice-chairmen, leaving the corner office about 18 months earlier than he had planned.
While he works on improving investor relations and pushing PepsiCo into China, his successor, President Steven S. Reinemund, will be running the company. Deciding who would be the next CEO, Enrico says, was one of his most important responsibilities.
Enrico, who came to PepsiCo in 1971 and became CEO in 1996, has had a great run. His dealmaking prowess in beating out Coca-Cola Co. (KO) for Quaker Oats and his overall marketing savvy has helped boost PepsiCo stock 36% this year. But he says he had never planned to be the boss: "I thought it would be boring. I thought: `CEOs, they have nothing to do. The president runs the company.' It was a lot more exciting than I bet on." Enrico does expect ultimately to launch a post-Pepsi career. But don't ask him what it will be. "If I planned it now," he says, "it wouldn't be much of an adventure." If it's half as good as the Pepsi adventure, it won't be bad at all.