Sankaran emerged from modest origins in India and ascended to the position of CEO at one of the world’s largest grocery chains.
Despite the fame of Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella, Vivek Sankaran, the leader of one of the prominent retail chains originating from the United States, remains relatively unknown to many. As a global CEO of Indian descent, Sankaran is among the distinguished former PepsiCo executives who were mentored for leadership by the legendary CEO Indra Nooyi.
Sankaran, originating from humble beginnings in India, navigated his path through the corporate realm and ultimately ascended to the position of CEO at Albertsons, the colossal grocery store chain with a market capitalization of $11.5 billion (over Rs 95,000 crore). As one of the former executives of PepsiCo, he now spearheads a Fortune 500 company. Sankaran held the role of PepsiCo North America’s CEO until 2019 when he departed for Albertsons.
Hailing from India, Sankaran was born and raised there, and he proudly holds the distinction of being an alumnus of the esteemed Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras. His journey began as a Xerox photocopier repairman, a skill he still playfully claims to possess, asserting his ability to fix those machines. Later, Sankaran embarked on a new chapter by venturing to the United States to pursue a master’s degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology, followed by an MBA at the University of Michigan.
In 1993, he embarked on a journey with the esteemed consulting firm McKinsey & Co., where he rapidly climbed the ranks and garnered widespread recognition within the industry. After more than a decade, he emerged as one of the notable business leaders who, under the strategic guidance of Indra Nooyi at PepsiCo, became a sought-after destination for talented professionals. In 2009, Nooyi offered him the prestigious position of Chief Strategy Officer at PepsiCo. Sankaran subsequently enjoyed a successful decade-long career at Pepsi, holding various leadership roles. Following in the footsteps of his esteemed peers like Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan and Target CEO Brian Cornell, he assumed the role of CEO at a top multinational corporation.