Contrary to Former Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi’s Advice, It’s Okay to Ask For a Raise

“I’ve never, ever, ever asked for a raise.” So says former Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi. Why? “I don’t know. I find it cringeworthy. I cannot imagine working for somebody and saying my pay is not enough.”

Oh boy.

Now, Nooyi goes on to say she made more money than she ever thought possible, so she doesn’t need a raise. Fair enough. I’m not there yet. And I’m willing to bet that unless you’re Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg secretly lurking on my blog (Hi Jeff and Mark!), you’re not there yet either.

Let me say that while Nooyi understands how to run a massive company and I do not, it should not be cringeworthy to ask for a raise if you deserve one.

Here is when it’s cringeworthy:

You (in job interview): My target salary is $65,000

Job offer: $65,000.

Two weeks into the job, you: I deserve $70,000.

Here are some other cases when it’s cringeworthy.

“I have student loans. I need more money.”

“I’m a single mom. Pay me more.”

“I know I’m on a PIP because I haven’t completed my work on time for the past 6 months, but I really could use a $10k raise!”

The key to raises is market rates.

Market rates should determine your value to the company, but companies aren’t always good at keeping up to date. (And one of the things I see a lot of lately is huge sign-on bonuses to new hires and ignoring current employees. You’re just encouraging your current employers to switch to your competitor for the sign-on bonus.)

If you are underpaid and you can show it, you should ask for a raise.

How do you know if you’re underpaid? Compensation professionals do a lot of complicated work to come up with salaries. How can you expect to know what the market rate is?

How to show you’re underpaid.

Here are some ways to know you deserve a raise:

  • You find out that others in the company doing similar jobs make more. Yes, you can talk about salaries (in most cases–if you’re a manager, you have less protection).
  • You’ve taken on a considerable amount of new work that, if the company hired someone from the outside to do the job, they’d pay a higher rate (and probably with a higher title)/
  • You see other companies hiring similar positions for more money than you earn.
  • You’re a verified outstanding performer. (This isn’t just what you think–this is from tangible things like job reviews, public recognition, etc.)
  • You’ve checked websites like Glassdoor,, and others.

No one cares about your pay as you do.

A school of thought says if you’re underpaid, it’s because your boss is purposely trying to screw you over. Possibly, but doubtful–especially if the boss offered you a market rate salary when they hired you. Chances are, your boss isn’t thinking about it like you are.

Bringing it to your boss’s attention is not a bad thing. Do understand that unless you report to the CEO, your boss probably doesn’t have the power to boost your salary today. You may have to wait but have that discussion.

Talk to your boss TODAY (it’s October when I’m writing this).

Why now? Because a lot of companies do year-end increases. If you wait until your boss tells you your year-end raise, it’s too late for the boss to change anything. The budget is spent. Have this conversation now or in the next couple of weeks. That’s when the boss can make changes. If you wait until December, it’s too late.

Don’t try to leverage a counteroffer.

If a manager comes to me and says, “My best employee got a job offer elsewhere. Should I give a counteroffer?” My answer will always be no. Say, “congratulations!” and move on. Very few people that accept counteroffers end up staying for more than a year anyway.

Ask your boss for a raise because you deserve it, but not with threats of leaving. And especially, don’t lie about having another offer. You’re likely to end up with no job.

If you deserve a raise, go ahead and ask.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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3 thoughts on “Contrary to Former Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi’s Advice, It’s Okay to Ask For a Raise

  1. How does the law define “manager”? At several jobs my title has contained the word “manager” but I wasn’t a people manager.

    1. It’s managing other people, not just a title. It’s the NLRA act if you care to Google.

  2. You may add: If an employee does their homework and can justify the increase, it is best to give it to them. Someone who has this level of information also knows where else they can work to get such compensation. If they are not satisfied, be prepared for them to leave.
    At a former position I calculated I was underpaid by 10%. Internal and external data (HR did a salary survey) confirmed this. I was offered a 1% pay increase. Within 3 months I had a new job, the 10% increase, and fewer working hours. I did not leverage a counter-offer, but did point out what comparable salaries were and I did not begin looking until the 1% was given.

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