To outsource or not to outsource? That is the question.

PEPSI Outsourcing (PDF)
PEPSI Picture Slides (PDF)

A: Costs are going through the roof. We have to shut down the human resource department. The company is going to contract out the operations.
B: Will I be relocated to a different department?
A: It pains me to say this, but unfortunately, we’re going to have to let you go.
B: You’ve got to be kidding me! You’re laying me off?
A: It’s not personal, it’s just business.


To go through the roof (i)(s) – [for prices] to become very high.
To shut down (pv) – when a business or organization stops all or part of its operations. Synonyms: to close down.
To contract out (pv) – to assign a job or service to someone outside the organization, to outsource.
It pains me to say this, but … (e) – I hate to say this but … (deliver bad news)
You’ve got to be kidding me (e)(s) – seriously? It can’t be true. (disbelief, shock)
To lay someone off (pv) – to fire someone because of high costs or business reasons.
To let someone go (pv)(euphemism) – to fire someone.
It’s not personal, it’s business (e) – said when distancing oneself from the problem say it to make ourselves and others feel better, avoid messy human emotions. (deliver bad news)

A: We had to bite the bullet and we’ve decided to outsource our tech support to Colombia. It was a difficult decision. We want you to go there and manage it.
B: No offense, but that’s so sudden. What if I say no?
A: Do you want to climb the corporate ladder? If you do this, we’re going to bump you up to a senior management position.


To bite the bullet (i) – to do or accept something difficult or unpleasant, usually an inevitable situation and move on. In WWII, doctors performing surgery without anesthesia were asked to bite a bullet.
No offense (e)(s) don’t be offended or angry, to make something negative sound more socially acceptable. E.g. No offense, but I think you’re mistaken. (follows a negative comment)
To climb the corporate ladder (i) a corporate ladder is a metaphor for a company’s employment hierarchy. To climb the ladder refers to moving up the hierarchy through promotions.
To bump someone up to (pv) – to move to a better position, to get a promotion.

A: We’re in the hole. We will have to close our doors down the line if we don’t make any changes. We need to figure something out at all costs.
B: What about outsourcing the design department?
A: With all due respect, that’s a terrible idea. Design is our core competency. I think we should close down our R&D department instead. It’s burning through cash with very little results – it’s our Achilles heel.
B: I agree. It’s time for that department to bite the dust. Our investment hasn’t paid off.


In the hole (i)(s) – in debt, losing money, in trouble. Synonym: in the red.
To close/shut one’s doors (i) – to end a situation, event or business.
Down the line/road (i) – in the future.
To figure something out (pv)(s) – to solve a problem, or understand something. Synonym: To work something out.
At all costs (i) – regardless of the price to be paid, how dangerous it is or effort needed, it must be done.
With (all due) respect (e) – a polite way to disagree or criticize someone or something, especially someone in a higher position (follows something negative).
To burn through cash/money (i) – to spend money very quickly.
Achilles heel (i) – a weakness or vulnerable point, a weak or soft spot.
To bite the dust (s) – to be killed, to break, to fail, to stop existing.
To pay off (pv) (many meanings)(1) to be successful, to have a good result (2) to pay back a debt or money you owe (3) to bribe someone.

A: Which law firm should we choose?
B: Pearson Spector wined and dined us all week. They took us to some really fancy restaurants. On the other hand, Hardman Litt dug their own grave when they always showed up late to our appointments. It left a bad taste in my mouth.
A: They were also cheapskates. They took us to really average places for lunch. It’s settled then, we’ll go with Pearson Spector.


To wine and dine someone (i) – to treat someone to an expensive meal or entertain someone expensively, usually in order to impress and get something back.
On the one hand | On the other hand (i) – to present two opposing arguments.
To dig one’s own grave (i) – to do something unwise that will result in one’s own failure in the future.
To show up (pv) – to appear.
To leave a bad taste in one’s mouth (i) – to cause a bad memory, to feel disappointed or disgusted.
A cheapskate (n)(s) – ungenerous, unwilling to spend. Synonyms: stingy, penny-pincher, miser, Scrooge.
It’s settled (then) (e) – used when everyone agrees, or a decision has been made. To have decided or resolved the issue, or reach an agreement. Synonym: to be on the same page, to see eye to eye.

PEPSI Discussion Questions

  1. Which products’ or services’ prices are going through the roof?
  2. What business functions or services are often contracted out?
  3. Have you ever been laid off? Have there been any recent layoffs in the news (find a piece of news online)?
  4. Do you think business should be more personal? In business, it’s recommended to separate business from emotions, do you think this is a good idea?
  5. Do you think about climbing the corporate ladder? Have you ever been bumped up to a higher position?
  6. Do you know any companies that are in the hole?
  7. What are your plans down the line? Marriage, buying a house, getting a job, getting a promotion, what else?
  8. What kind of food would you avoid at all costs?
  9. What kind of companies burn through cash? Why?
  10. What is your Achilles heel?
  11. Do you think hard work or effort pays off? Tell me about an example from your own life.
  12. Are you a cheapskate? Would you date someone stingy?