Pepsi: Repairing a Poisoned Reputation in India

How the soda giant fought charges of tainted products in a country fixated on its polluted water

Indra K. Nooyi says she still feels guilty filling a bathtub with water. It sounds far-fetched coming from the chief executive of a major multinational corporation, until you consider her early years. Nooyi, the chief executive of PepsiCo Inc. (PEP), didn't get much water growing up during the 1960s in the Indian coastal city of Chennai. Although she describes her family as "very middle class," they still had to rise every morning between three and five—the only hours that the valves to the municipal water supply were turned on—and fill every bucket in the house. Two buckets were set aside for cooking, and two each would go to Nooyi, her older sister, and her younger brother. "You had to think about whether to take a bath," says Nooyi, matter-of-factly. "You learned to live your life off those two buckets."

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