Promotion Stories – Episode 6 (Manager to Director)

Promotion Story – Episode 6 (Manager to Director)

Welcome to episode #6 in a series of posts sharing inside details on what it really takes to get promoted at work.

Served up in a Q&A format, we learn how others have successfully managed to move up at work. Including…

  • The process they went through to get promoted.
  • The factors that were most important to getting promoted.
  • How much their compensation increased as a result of getting promoted.
  • The challenges they had to overcome to be recognized as promotion-ready.
  • And much more…


General Questions


1) Tell us a little bit about yourself

I recently turned 50 and my career has spanned 27-years in various industries and several functions. I have been blessed with many professional opportunities which has led me to where I am today. I started my career in marketing but over time and several job changes later I landed in supply chain where I plan to remain.

Living in Phoenix, Arizona I enjoy all types of outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, fishing, and running. I am not married anymore but have two beautiful teenagers which are growing up fast.

2) What do you do for work?

Currently I work in a global supply chain organization at a semiconductor design and manufacturing company handling strategy and intelligence. The responsibilities are broad but mainly handle the benchmarking for group. From tools and processes to workforce and performance as well as other supply chain related topics. The other part is understanding the market and how it affects our supply chain.

3) Tell us about your employer/company.

I work for a public Fortune 50 semiconductor design and manufacturing company that has 130,000 employees and 7B in revenue annually.

4) How long have you worked in your industry?

I have been working in high-tech for most of my career but landed specifically in the semiconductor industry about 5-years ago.


Promotion Process Questions


1) Tell us about your promotion.

One promotion stands out to me above all others because it wasn’t typical. The circumstances a bit different and it taught me a career-long lesson. I was managing a marketing communications team at a high-tech distribution company and was asked to work on a “special project” regarding building internal intelligence assets to allow us to be more competitive.

It pushed my comfort zone as I was not very knowledgeable about business intelligence, IT systems and enterprise reporting. I ended up with essentially two jobs. One, managing and established marcomm team and the second, building out a new capability from the ground floor.

It was a great experience. I learned how to effectively influence others without authority working between groups. And built-up new knowledge and skills. As I was taking a risk managing two roles with somewhat high visibility, it worked out to my advantage. My willingness to jump into an ambiguous environment, learn, and take a career risk was noticed. I was promoted to director and eventually had to choose between teams.

2) Why did you want to get promoted?

I was still young in my career and started a family. So, there was a definite financial motivation with wanted to move up the corporate ranks. I wanted to provide the best possible life for my family. At the time, I associated success with advancement. More responsibility, more money. Additionally, I wanted to be a trusted advisor to others and sometimes title helps with that depending on the company.

I don’t feel the same today. I am not as focused on advancement. I am focused on doing enjoyable work, being paid fairly, and having a work, life balance.

3) How long did it take to get promoted?

It felt like it took forever to get a director level at a Fortune 500 company. But it took about 15-years from the time I got out of school. Others I worked with were promoted before me so I thought it was the right time.

4) Did your compensation increase with your promotion?

My compensation did increase along with the benefits. It was mostly in the form of base and incentive pay for performance. It was a long time ago, but I believe it was in the +10% range. I don’t entirely remember!

5) Describe the promotion process.

As I mentioned earlier, it wasn’t typical. I was a manager of a team, and I took on an additional role which required a lot of work. It was getting obvious that I had a heavy workload and was doing a great job at both jobs. Eventually my director went to bat for me and got my promotion approved up the chain. In this case, there wasn’t a specific career plan I was following, or my director had in mind.

6) Were you promoted as part of an annual performance review process or during another time?

If I remember correctly, it was not part of a performance review. It was a separate time and didn’t follow the normal annual promotion schedule.


Reasons for Your Promotion


1) Did you have to build a case or submit a justification for your promotion?


Again, not typical. People noticed my work and I don’t remember advocating for it or submitting any justification.

2) How did you get promoted? What were the most important factors?


I was promoted partly due to my willingness to take on risks and build something from scratch that could potentially fail and have my name tied to it. The other part was the hard work and willingness to put in the extra time to get both jobs done.

3) Did you have to adapt or change any behaviors to become more promotable? Any missteps?


Yes, I had to get better at working with other groups and influencing without authority. My ability to learn that skill helped make me more promotable.

4) What was the most difficult part of getting promoted?

This comment isn’t related to this specific promotion, but another situation. Obstacles will occur when you feel you are ready to be promoted and you have done your due diligence.

Sometimes there are bad situations and not every promotion you are going for are evaluated on pure merit. Sometimes people promote people like themselves or those they are friends with rather than merit.

I did have to eventually leave a company because I was overlooked several times. Sometimes there are tough decisions to make.

5) How much did each of these areas influence your ability to get promoted? (rate on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is little to now influence, and 5 is significant influence)


Being seen as a top performer and delivering exceptional results

3 — I believe sometimes the best candidates for a promotion, or a hire aren’t the ones with the exceptional results. There are other factors like skill sets, managing style, ability to relate and ability to motivate or strategize.

Being seen as a high potential employee who could take on bigger responsibilities

4 — This is imperative. You must prove that you can take on more responsibilities and that usually must happen before any promotion. Demonstration that you can handle it is key.

Being seen as someone who strong presence who shows up with impact.

4 — Working between and among groups requires a strong presence who can help guide, influence, and make change without being overly dominant.

Gaining advocacy and support from others for your promotion.

5 — You can’t get promoted on your own. You need people to advocate for you. Building alliances and politicking on your own behalf helps.

6) Were you given advice about what you needed to do to get promoted?


Not back then. It was a mystery to me. I didn’t realize later that I needed to be responsible for my own promotions and movements. No one else was going to look out for me.

More Promotion Story Q&A Interviews

Promotion Story 2

Promoted from Director to Executive Level

“I received a 15% bump in total compensation (base, bonus, equity).”

Promotion Story 3

Promoted from Coordinator to Manager Level

“I’m proud to say I got promoted because I asked!”

Promotion Story 6

Promoted from Manager to Director Level

“The hardest part about getting promoted to where I am now was overcoming age and gender prejudice.”


Future / Misc Questions


1) What’s next for you? Do you want to continue to climb the ladder?

If the opportunity arises, I might continue to climb the corporate ladder at my current company. It is dependent on a lot more now then when I was younger. Moderate travel, work/life balance, family, enjoyable working environment – things I didn’t really consider back then. For now, I am just learning as much as I can and creating strong networks where I am at.

2) What guidance would you give to someone else working to get promoted?

Build alliances and nurture advocates for you and your work outside of your direct supervisor or team. They can go a long way in promoting your works, talents without you having to do it directly. Get a mentor if you don’t have one. Someone you can trust, older and is well networked at your company. They will be able to guide and advise you where your direct supervisor might not.

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