Washington: Pepsico chief executive Indira Nooyi inevitably tops the list of what Forbes calls "Eight Indian-Flavoured CEOs" who lead US corporations with revenues of at least $2 billion as the premier business magazine chronicles the rise of Indians in corporate ranks in America.
"The chief executive of PepsiCo would be prominent no matter what. The fact that the current one - Indira Nooyi - is an Indian immigrant (and female, in case you`ve been living under a rock) makes her all the more noteworthy," it says.
"It`s not a not a surprise that we`re seeing Indians rise in corporate ranks," Forbes quotes Richard Herman, co-author of a book on migrants to the US, Immigrant, Inc, as saying in an article published Monday.
"Of all the immigrant groups coming in today, Indians are head-and-shoulders above others, and this is partly because of their English language skills and also the advanced education that many of them are bringing to the US."
"Despite these personal success stories the number of immigrants who are leading corporate America, Indian or otherwise, is still a tiny fraction," according to Forbes. But, says Herman, "look at where the data was ten years ago and maybe it was zero or one [Indian then]."
Future CEO candidates might want to look for a tough assignment in order to break through, he says. "Americans are having a tough time dealing with global diversity, Herman adds, " but just look at who was running the Tarp financial-rescue fund - Neel Kashkari"- an Indian-American who is now joining bond giant Pimco as a managing director."
Of the featured eight, Nooyi, 53, says Herman, is part of a growing trend where US companies are being created, or led, by foreign-born individuals who bring in something special.
Vikram Pandit, the embattled CEO of Citigroup, is the other prominent native Indian in the corner office.
"Prior to joining the ailing bank he was president of Morgan Stanley`s investment banking, fixed income and capital markets businesses and cofounded and was the chairman of a hedge fund, Old Lane Partners," Forbes notes.
Third on the list is Kenya-born Francisco D`Souza heads Cognizant Technology Solutions, which outsources IT services for its Western world clients.
D`Souza, 40, whose grandparents hailed from Goa in India, joined the company in 1994 when it was founded and within three years had gone up the ranks to become director of North American operations.
Next comes Shantanu Narayen, 46, at the helm at Adobe Systems. The diversified software company`s flagship Internet video tool is Flash.
"At least one top boss of Indian descent is plotting a growth strategy," says Forbes of Quest Diagnostics` head Surya Mohapatra, fifth on the list. Mohapatra has raised $750 million from the capital markets for acquisitions.
Also featured are Dinesh Paliwal of Harman International, Jai P. Nagarkatti of Sigma-Aldrich and Abhijit Talwalkar of LSI.
Paliwal, a native of the city of the Taj Mahal, joined Harman, a sound-systems company in Stamford, Connecticut, as chief executive in 2007. Prior to that he spent 22 years at ABB Group and set up its operations in China and north Asia.
Nagarkatti joined Sigma-Aldrich in 1976 as a development chemist, and after heading the company`s scientific research business was appointed COO, in August 2004.
Talwalkar was appointed chief executive of LSI of Milpitas, California, in May 2005. Earlier, he was at Intel`s digital enterprise group. He joined Intel in 1993 after stints at Sequent Computer Systems (now part of IBM), Bipolar Integrated Technology Inc. and Lattice Semiconductor Inc.