Mar 19, 2021

C-suite spotlight: Erika Nardini, CEO, Barstool Sports

BarstoolSports
C-Suite
CEO
Leadership
Kate Birch
3 min
In the first of our C-Suite spotlights for the US, we profile Erika Nardini, the Barstool Sports’ CEO who has blazed a trail in a male-dominated industry
In the first of our C-Suite spotlights for the US, we profile Erika Nardini, the Barstool Sports’ CEO who has blazed a trail in a male-dominated indus...

Who is Erika Nardini? 

A seasoned media executive and expert in building, marketing and monetising digital media brands, known for her entrepreneurial spirit, dynamic leadership and outspokenness, Erika Nardini has blazed a trail in a male-dominated industry taking the helm as CEO of digital media sports’ brand Barstool Sports in 2016. 

What is Barstool Sports?

Barstool Sports is a digital media brand that delivers unfiltered, authentic, irreverent, and sometimes controversial sports and entertainment audio and video content to more than a billion followers on social media (1.6 billion) and millions through its website, app, podcasts, and Sirius XM channel. Barstool was recently recognised as the 47th largest publisher in the US with a wider reach than ESPN Digital, the Washington Post, Turner and the NY Times, despite being nearly 1/100th the size of these companies. 

Why is Nardini in the spotlight? 

Ultimately, because in just a few years Nardini has grown Barstool exponentially, creating the fastest-growing lifestyle brand on the fastest-growing platforms on the planet. The first CEO of Barstool Sports, Nardini has taken Barstool from a regional blog with 12 employees to the digital media juggernaut it is today, with its national multimedia force of more than 180 employees and well over a US$100 million valuation. 

Under her leadership, Barstool's revenue has skyrocketed by 1,100% and it is now the 6th largest podcast platform in the world, the world’s #1 sports podcast and number #1 female podcast, and the fastest growing sports brand on every social platform. Nardini has launched over 35 brands including breakout franchises in entertainment, sports and sports betting. 

And her other achievements? 

Since turning Barstool into a massive success, Nardini has been named the 'Most Controversial Woman in Sports' by the NY Post, one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People, and one of the 'Most Powerful Women in Sports' by AdWeek and Forbes. She’s aso secured an array of awards, from Google’s Marketing Machine Award in 2006, to the Advertising Hall of Achievement Class of 2014. She sits on WWE’s corporate board of directors WWE. 

What’s her latest initiative as CEO?

She’s formed a SPAC with Peter Chernin, film producer (Planet of the Apes remakes) seeking US$250 million to acquire consumer-oriented internet businesses including companies in media, sports, gaming and wellness. And rumour has it that she’s now looking to buy a sports team-type

How did she get to this position?

Nardini began her career as Media Manager for Fidelity Investments, responsible for all broadcast, print and interactive media planning and buying, and where in the late 90s, she established the firm's first digital planning practice. In addition to stints at Demand Media, Yahoo! and Microsoft, Nardini was VP and Group Account Director of Arnold Worldwide for four years, responsible for all digital and media management for brands including Royal Caribbean, Volkswagon, Tyson Foods and Goodyear. 

She was also AOL’s first CMO of advertising. where she oversaw its position and value as a leading digital content and tech platform, redesigning AOL’s entire marketing strategy which led to improved customer awareness. Just prior to joining Barstool, Nardini served as President and Chief Revenue Officer of Bkstg, a musician to fan platform that aims to create a relationship between artist and fan. 

In her own words… 

“But I like that the buck stops with me, and that I’m accountable,” she said in 2017 of her first-ever CEO role at Barstool Sports. 

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Jun 6, 2021

Business Chief Legend: Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi

PepsiCo
businesslegend
Leadership
CEO
Kate Birch
4 min
As the first and only female CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi smashed corporate America’s glass ceiling and transformed the performance and purpose of PepsiCo

At a recent Asia Pacific-focused event, organised by P&G and UN Women, the former CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi, shared why enabling a diverse and inclusive workforce can directly impact the bottom line.

“If 80% of our products are bought by women because they were the gatekeepers at home, or make all the purchases, why don’t we have a large number of women represented in our ranks,” she told a virtual global crowd of thousands. 

Such business advice may seem rather obvious today, but in 2006, when Nooyi put this business philosophy into practice at PepsiCo, it was both pioneering and progressive. Because not only did the performance of PepsiCo transform under Nooyi’s 12-year tenure as CEO, but so did its purpose and people, with Nooyi widely praised for transforming the firm’s diversity and inclusion agenda.

And who better to do so than someone who had herself smashed the corporate American glass ceiling. Because, when Nooyi became CEO in 2006, following 12 years as Chief Strategist, not only was she among just a handful of female CEOs leading Fortune 500 firms, and one of very few foreign-born executives, she was both the first female CEO to lead PepsiCo, and the first person of colour. Not to mention also being a wife and mother.

Proving performance and purpose can co-exist

And she more than got the job done, growing PepsiCo revenues by 80%, making the firm more global than it had ever been, so that by the time she stepped down in 2018, nearly 20% of net revenues came from MENA, Asia and Latin America, and expanding the business significantly with key acquisitions (Tropicana) and mergers (Quaker Oats).

But it was Nooyi’s strategic redirection of PepsiCo, transforming both its purpose and people, that really made an impact. As chief architect of PepsiCo’s pledge, Performance with Purpose, unveiled in 2006 and a precursor to the modern sustainability movement, Nooyi repositioned the firm to focus on what is best for the world and for its people, from sustainability and social responsibility to diversity and diet.

She transformed the firm’s D&I agenda, created a culture where workers were encouraged to stay with the company, moved corporate spending away from junk food and into healthier alternatives, redesigned packaging to reduce waste, and switched to renewable energy sources and recycling.

As she told Forbes in 2017, “I wanted to make sure that PepsiCo was not only delivering top-tier financial returns but doing so in a way that was responsive to the needs of the world around us.”

Indra Nooyi talking with US President Biden (then Vice President) in 2014

Smashing corporate America's glass ceiling

And it was this ability to realise a world in which business is both practiced and recognised as a force for good that has earned Nooyi a place in CEO history books and landed her numerous accolades, including 11 honorary degrees, the Hero of Conscious Capitalism award at 2017’s CEO Summit, consistent inclusion in the world’s 100 most powerful women (including #1 by Forbes in 2009/10) and most recently, induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Not bad for a girl from Chennai, India, who was expected to lead a conventional life as a wife and mother, but by her own admission was a bit of a “rebel”, with a passion for playing cricket and lead guitarist in a band. In the late 70s, she relocated to the US, earning herself a Master’s in management from Yale, and beginning a four decade-long strategy-focused career that was born at BCG in 1980 where she spent six years and ended in 2018 following 24 impactful years at PepsiCo.

And while she has now retired from corporate life, Nooyi continues to wield the influence that so positively changed the direction of one of the world’s largest companies. As well as serving on the board for ecommerce giant Amazon, she speaks at summits close to her heart, and has recently penned her memoir, advising corporates on better integrating work and family.

And while she has now retired from corporate life, Nooyi continues to wield the influence that so positively changed the direction of one of the world’s largest companies. As well as serving on the board for ecommerce giant Amazon, she speaks at summits close to her heart, and has recently penned her memoir, advising corporates on better integrating work and family. 

Indra Nooyi's memoir will be available from September 28, 2021, and can be pre-ordered. 

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