Indra Nooyi, the former chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo, has said that she has “never, ever, ever” asked for a raise as she found it “cringeworthy” and cannot imagine working for somebody and saying “my pay is not enough.”
Nooyi, 65, who helmed the beverage giant PepsiCo for 12 years and stepped down as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 2018, has published a memoir ‘My Life in Full’.
Born in Chennai, she graduated from the Madras Christian College and studied management at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta before moving to Yale University in the US for a master’s degree.
She is considered as one of the most powerful and influential women leaders around the world.
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“I think it’s me, just me. I’ve never, ever, ever asked for a raise,” Nooyi said in an interview to The New York Times Magazine in response to a question on whether there is anything gendered to her decision to turn down a raise.
When asked why she has never asked for a raise, she said “I don’t know. I find it cringeworthy. I cannot imagine working for somebody and saying my pay is not enough. My husband and I talk about it all the time. He goes, ‘This is more money than we ever thought we would make, so forget it.’ He’s that way too.”
In her book, she writes about money when things were tight for her but she does not write about money when “presumably things were less tight,” according to the interview.
She was asked how her attitude about money changed as she moved further ahead in her career when she was handsomely compensated.
The interview notes that Nooyi’s compensation for 2017, the year after which she stepped down as PepsiCo CEO, was about USD 31 million.
“I never asked my board to give me more money. Some of my reports would say to me, ‘Your problem is you’re not asking for more money because our compensation is pegged to yours and you’re not asking for more.’ I said: “I will never ask my board for more money. Whatever they give me is much more than I would have ever had,” she said.
Nooyi says in the interview that one year, the board gave her a raise right around the time after a financial crisis and she said she did not want it.
“I said ‘I don’t want the raise’. They’re going to wonder whether your performance was bad. I said, ‘Say you gave me the raise and I turned it down’. And they did,” she said.
Nooyi said that she and her husband Raj Nooyi have lived in the same house in Connecticut for over 30 years.
“We didn’t move into a bigger house. All we did was buy the properties next door to ours and take down the house so that nobody would build a gigantic mansion. We landscaped it and we allow people to wander around it. But we grew up without much money, and that philosophy has never left us. One place that I did spend some money was in buying some decent clothes, because people said, ‘Come on, wear some clothes that fit as opposed to two sizes too big’.
“But we’ve given away a lot. All the educational institutions that touched us, our kids — we’ve endowed a chair in public health at Yale. We say, ‘We are blessed with money, so let’s give it away,” she said.
Nooyi had earned her MBA from the prestigious Yale School of Management.
In 2016, the school said it was renaming its deanship in the honour of Nooyi, who had gifted an undisclosed “landmark” amount to her alma mater, becoming the school’s biggest alumni donor and the first woman to endow the deanship at a top business school.
In 2019, Nooyi was presented with an honorary degree by Yale in recognition of her achievements in business and being a global role model who encouraged women and girls to see themselves as top corporate executives.