‘My life in Full: Work Family and Our Future’ is a memoir by Indra Nooyi, who led PepsiCo – a multinational snacks and beverages company, for 12 years. Nooyi is the first woman of color to head a Fortune 50 company. In the 320 pages long book, Indra unfolds her journey from being an all-rounder student to running a multinational company with hard work and talent. Released in September 2021, it has been a New York Times Bestseller and sold over a million copies.
In the first part of the book, Indra narrates her school life in Chennai, her paternal grandfather’s role in her upbringing, and her relationship with immediate family members. The story of her school education and higher education in India followed by the USA is filled with emotions and portrayed with the tiniest nuances. This part keeps the reader engaged. Unfortunately, the link between reader and author diminishes as the story progresses due to the superficial narration of incidents, politically corrected descriptions, and near-perfect reasoning for her decisions and actions. At one point, I thought that the story was mere paraphrasing of Nooyi’s daily office diary. It could have been stylized or dramatized to keep readers hooked up. It seems like Indra wanted to keep the narration simple and to the point.
‘My life in Full’ fails to connect the reader with the characters (except maybe her daughter Preetha) even though they were crucial part of Indra’s journey. We see Nooyi climbing the corporate ladder swiftly and smoothly from one rung to the next without failing once. It is challenging to relate to her impeccable journey as an ordinary person.
Nooyi acknowledges prioritizing work over family on numerous occasions. The book is full of stories showcasing her perseverance, dedication to work, and visionary leadership. The bit I found most exciting and confirming her workaholic personality is her urge to work from home after an unfortunate car accident.
My eagerness to know Indra Nooyi as a person felt unfulfilled even when I reached the end of the book as the book focuses on more about her as a businesswoman than as a human being. It does little to demystify her life. There is an emphasis on the tremendous pressure under which the leadership roles at big businesses have to perform. It underlines the brutal truth of private companies’ ‘perform or perish’ culture. All that was covered in the book is pretty much the same things that Indra speaks of in her interviews. Nothing much has been added- the wow factor is missing!
The book is recommended for young readers interested in understanding the business culture of a multinational company.
Thanks to Matrika Ghimiray for proofreading this article and clicking a lovely photo for this post :)