After 12 years as PepsiCo’s chief executive, Indra Nooyi is stepping down. She will stay on as chairman until early 2019.

“Today is a day of mixed emotions for me. This company has been my life for nearly a quarter century and part of my heart will always remain here,” Nooyi said in a statement.

When Nooyi, 62, took the reins of Pepsi in 2006, she became the company’s first female chief executive and its first foreign-born chief executive. Nooyi was born in Chennai, India, and she joined Pepsi 24 years ago. Before assuming the top leadership role, Nooyi was the company’s senior vice president of strategy.

She is one of the few minority female leaders of corporations, and her departure focuses attention on the absence of women — particularly women of color — in some of the United States’ most high-profile corporate roles.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Nooyi said she won’t “go silent” after leaving her post at Pepsi, and she’ll continue to help women climb the corporate ladder.

“We have to keep fighting the good fight to develop women, to mentor them, to support them, so that we can get more highly qualified women — and there’s plenty of them — into the boardroom, into C suites and into the ultimate CEO job,” Nooyi told Bloomberg. “My job is in fact just beginning once I leave PepsiCo because I can do things now that I was constrained to do when I was CEO of the company.”

Nooyi’s tenure was marked by changing consumer tastes for beverages and snacks, and under her leadership, the company known for colas and chips expanded to include healthier alternatives. The company’s net revenue grew from $35 billion in 2006 to $63.5 billion in 2017, the company said. From December 2006 to December 2017, Pepsi delivered a total shareholder return of 162 percent.

“Leading PepsiCo has truly been the honor of my lifetime, and I’m incredibly proud of all we have done over the past 12 years to advance the interests not only of shareholders, but all our stakeholders in the communities we serve,” Nooyi said in a statement. “Growing up in India, I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to lead such an extraordinary company.”

She will be succeeded on Oct. 3 by Ramon Laguarta, who has served as Pepsi’s president since last year. Laguarta, a native of Barcelona, Spain, has been with the company for 22 years.

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