PepsiCo CEO says this one skill was crucial to her success

Indra Nooyi
David A. Grogan | CNBC

Indra Nooyi, CEO at PepsiCo, has a reputation. And it's helped her become one of the most powerful women in business.

"Interestingly, over my entire career what I've been known for is making simple the complex, whatever the issue is," Nooyi tells LinkedIn Executive Editor Daniel Roth.

As Nooyi's colleagues always say, "If you give it to Indra, it will get addressed."

To get ahead, it helps to have a "hip-pocket skill," something you're known for being great at and can develop even further, according to the CEO. Something akin to what CEO John Nesheim dubbed your "unfair advantage."

For example, when PepsiCo was working with Quaker Oats, the company had to go through a complicated process with the Federal Trade Commission. The company's lawyers were handling it, but Pepsico's leadership team wanted to better understand what was going on. So they put Nooyi on the job.

"I went to school on the FTC process," she says. "I became a student, and now I could explain, in very simple terms, what needed to be done."

The CEO recommends professionals find a specific talent they have and hone it.

Your "hip-pocket" skill could be excellent communication, an ability to be a team player or a facility for learning new things. As long as it's truly useful and relatively rare, it will serve you well.

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