Climbing the Corporate Ladder

From Admin Assistant to CMO and Financially Free in My 40s

Back in the 90s, the first job I could get after college was as an admin assistant.

You know, doing stuff like scheduling meetings and ordering food — and yes, even getting my boss coffee. 

It paid a whopping $18k year — far from my dream job! 

But, I figured if I worked hard enough, eventually I would get promoted. And fortunately, this approach to getting ahead worked for a while.

Until I learned what all of us who work in the corporate world eventually come to understand — the most deserving employees don’t always get promoted.

It takes much more than hard work to get ahead in business.

climbing the corporate ladder

Career Low Point

During my 20+ year career, I faced all kinds of “fun” work challenges, like working for bad bosses, dealing with difficult coworkers, struggling to speak up and be heard, political power plays, and much more.

As a quiet introvert who values humility, I was often overlooked for promotions and struggled to advance my career. 

But I reached a career low point when I found myself still stuck in middle management, passed over for a promotion for the third straight year. 

I watched my coworkers once again succeed in moving up, while I stayed circling in a career cul-de-sac. And the kicker was when my boss explained how I needed to “be more visible” to get promoted because higher ups associated my work results to him. Argh!

I could feel myself on the verge of becoming one of those long-suffering employees who’s endured one too many career setbacks – and I didn’t like it!


My Lightbulb Moment

That’s when a lightbulb went off in my head — the whole convention of climbing the corporate ladder until traditional retirement age wouldn’t work for me.

I just knew I would grow tired of my career sooner rather than later. And when that time came, I wanted to have the option to quit working.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder for Early Retirement

I dreamed of having the freedom to dive into other interests and hobbies, even if they didn’t come with fat paychecks, or any pay at all (kinda like writing this blog!).

However, when I took a hard look at our financial situation, which included a deeply underwater mortgage, my dream of an early exit seemed far out of reach.

Doubling Down on My Corporate Career

I toyed with the idea of starting a side hustle to make more money, especially with all the house-flipping buzz in the mid 2000s.

However, I decided to stick with what I knew—and double down on climbing the corporate ladder.

After all, I knew next to nothing about real estate investing, but I had years of experience in the business world, and I’d already learned many hard lessons about what it takes to move up.

Setting a Goal to Make Work Optional

I crunched (and re-crunched) some numbers and set a goal—I called it my “make work optional” number.

It was the amount needed to give me the freedom to walk away from corporate work and enjoy a Colorado lifestyle with my husband — without worrying about money.

You know, doing things like skiing, hiking, golfing… and watching our beloved donkeys (aka Denver Broncos) try to become contenders again!

Climbing the Corporate Ladder to Pursue Other Interests

So, I went all in and committed to climbing the corporate ladder to reach that magical number.

Cracking the Code on Career Advancement

My new vision of “making work optional” fueled my motivation at work. I was on a mission to crack the code on career advancement.

Instead of working hard and waiting around for higher ups to recognize my potential, I started making some strategic career moves.

This meant doing things like changing jobs and enlisting more help from work friends to get promoted. It also included changing companies to make myself more marketable, and spending a ton of time talking to recruiters about new opportunities.

And most of all, it meant pushing myself outside my comfort zone on a regular basis! 

7 Years Later: Financial Freedom

Fast forward 7 years, and advancing my career paid off big time.

I finally made my way out of middle management, landed myself in the executive ranks as a chief marketing officer, and increased my income 5x.


I didn’t just hit, but exceeded my financial goals much earlier than I expected.

A year after reaching my “make work optional” number, my desire to keep working began to quickly fade. The time had come when I no longer wanted to advance my corporate career.

So, in early 2021, I quit my job and decided to do something different.

My New Mission

Today, I’m all about showing ambitious professionals like you what it takes to reach your career goals faster, make more money sooner, and even quit working earlier.

I launched Finally Promoted to share what I discovered matters most to get ahead in business and inspire you to make your career and financial goals a reality.

Look, I know all too well how frustrating corporate work can be. But I also believe a career in business can provide much more than many people think.

If financial independence is important to you, growing your career in corporate can be a great way to achieve it!

Relatable, Real-World Advice

I’m not promising any “get-rich-quick” schemes here, or easy fixes to get promoted. But what I will do is share real-world advice backed by real-life examples.

My journey hasn’t been particularly noteworthy or exceptional. In fact, I probably advanced my career slower than many others.

Yet, I still managed to get promoted 10 times and reach my financial goals sooner than I expected.

So – trust me, if I can do it, you can too!

I’m Here to Help

If you share similar goals to advance your career, make more money, and maybe even make work optional – and you want to hear from someone who’s been in your shoes – you’ve come to the right place!

I hope you’ll visit often and sign up to join the Finally Promoted community!


Climbing the Corporate Ladder to Pursue Other Interests