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Gautham Mukkavilli among 3 in race for PepsiCo India top job

NEW DELHI: The chair left vacant by former PepsiCo India head Manu Anand around four months ago will soon get a new occupant as Sanjeev Chadha, the company's newly appointed CEO of Asia, Middle East and Africa (AMEA), and the top management at the PepsiCo headquarters at Purchase, New York, take a final look at the three shortlisted candidates from PepsiCo India.

Several PepsiCo executives that TOI spoke to said the three candidates in the reckoning include Gautham Mukkavilli, the India beverages head; 
Praveen Someshwar ,Frito Lay India head; and Kimsuka Narsimhan, CFO, PepsiCo India.

"The unit heads of Pepsi-Co's beverage and foods business in India — 
Gautham Mukkavilli and Praveen Someshwar — are definitely in the reckoning. However, the surprise package is CFO Kimsuka Narsimhan," a senior PepsiCo executive said on the condition of anonymity.

In response to a questionnaire , a PepsiCo India spokesperson said, "We don't comment on market speculation."

Manu Anand, the region president for India and South Asia at PepsiCo India, had quit in June in circumstances described by company insiders as less than amicable. Anand joined Mondelez International (formerly Cadbury India) as its India head, replacing Anand Kripalu.

According to people familiar with situation, PepsiCo India was struggling to get a right person for the job and the sudden death of Saad Abdul Latif, former AMEA region head, slowed down the search process.

Said a former senior PepsiCo executive, "Mukkavilli and Someshwar have an edge. Someshwar started his career in PepsiCo India as a finance manager and then became the CFO, sales head and went on to become the beverages head, before moving on to lead the foods division. On the other hand, Mukkavilli has an impressive experience mix in senior positions in the beverages and foods units of PepsiCo in India as well as good overseas exposure."

Sources close to the company said Kimsuka Narsimhan, who was elevated to the position of India region's first CFO at PepsiCo in 2008, joined PepsiCo in 2005 from 
HULBSE 0.29 % as the CFO of Frito Lay India and has a fair chance of getting the top post due to her great people management skills, number crunching abilities and overseas experience.

"If she gets the top job, the situation might just have a similarity with the rise of PepsiCo CEO
Indra Nooyi — both of them were CFOs and hail from Chennai," he added.