"I think we all live in a world where people are much more focused on quarterly profits than they are on, where is the company headed, and is the quarterly profit a marker, a mile marker if you want to call it that, towards that long term journey? What’s happening is that, people are worried about the level of returns rather than the sustainability and the duration of the returns. So for example, any CEO that comes into the job can say to themselves, "I want to run this company for my duration." So let’s say I’ve come to the job and said, "I want to be CEO for five years." For five years, in a big company like PepsiCo, you can cut/slash/burn, make enormous earnings, and then let the next person pick up the debris of what you have left for them. You can easily do that. Or you can run the company for the duration of the company, which is for decades to come — because PepsiCo is a company that’s been around for decades, and it should be around for a much longer time. And the only way that you run a company for the duration of the company and not the CEO is to invest responsibly in transformation when the world demands a transformation.
So when I became CEO in 2006, and then Chairman in 2007, I noticed three trends. First, the health and wellness trend was here, and here to stay. I realized then that carbonated soft drinks were going to start declining steadily, and we had to retool the portfolio. I realized that we had plants that were making Pepsi and other beverages in many water-distressed areas. We generated a lot of plastic, and that was not very good for the environment, and we had to change our model to be more environmentally sustainable. And I also realized that our people were our biggest asset, and we had to change a lot of things about PepsiCo to attract and retain the best and the brightest. So doing all of these things, shifting the portfolio of a large company, making ourselves environmentally more sustainable when we were good at it but not great at it but we had to be great, and changing so many things about the talent agenda was not something we could do overnight. Couple that with the fact that in 2008/2009 we had the enormous financial meltdown, and the focus of the company shifted to developing markets when we were a North American company. So we set about making one of the biggest transformations in the history of the company. And through it, we performed.
And some of these investors came and said, “We’d like you to perform at an even higher level.” Sure, but if you perform at an even higher level, you would have to sacrifice the transformation. I made a decision with my board that I’d rather do what’s right for PepsiCo over the duration of the company, which is decades, rather than doing something that did not have any courage behind it, but was good for me as an individual. I believe that a responsible CEO should do what’s right for the company. I knew it would be unpopular, but I decided to do what was right, with support of the board.”