Who am I? My Background and Career Journey.

My Background

To give you a better idea about where I’m coming from with the content I share on Finally Promoted, I think it’s important for you to know the factors that have shaped my work and career perspectives, and about my own journey in corporate America. 

The Basics

First, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with my career after graduating from college — there was no career passion calling to me. I mostly stumbled into corporate work to earn a paycheck.

But this simple action led me to spend the next 20+ years working at Fortune 100 and mid-size technology companies. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start with some background info

My Career Journey

After college I really had no idea what I wanted to do next. I just needed to earn a paycheck.

It was the mid-90s and I had just started doing contract work while looking for my first “real job” after college. Soon after I landed a temporary assignment with tech giant, Hewlett-Packard.

Although it was a short-term project, I was hopeful it would lead to a full-time position. I imagined myself managing exciting marketing projects and traveling around the world to important meetings smile

And my dreams came true! Well, sort of.

My temp assignment did lead to a job offer to join HP. But it wasn’t a fancy schmancy role in the marketing team. Instead, I was offered a job supporting the marketing team. HP wanted to hire me as an admin assistant–ordering food, booking trave, purchasing supplies.

Now, I may not have known exactly what I wanted to do for a career, but administrative work was not it.

But I ultimately decided it was a way for me to get in the door of a Fortune 50 company. And if I worked hard, I would surely find a way to move up as quickly as possible.

I graciously accepted the job offer and made it my mission to be a great employee and get promoted. 

My fascination with how to get promoted began. And my slow and sporadic climb up the corporate ladder commence (and my immense appreciation for all the unsung corprate admins was established!).

It’s Hard to Get Promoted

Over the next 25 years, I worked hard to advance my career. I was promoted 10 times while working at mid-size businesses and F100 companies. Eventually, I made my way to the c-suite as a chief marketing officer.

But of course, it wasn’t easy. I faced all the typical challenges one faces moving up at work—being overlooked, getting passed over for promotions, working for narcissistic bosses, dealing with difficult coworkers, struggling to speak up and be heard, and much more.

I quickly came to realize that great employees don’t always get promoted.

All too often, high-performing professionals who quietly kick butt at work get overlooked for promotions. This certainly rang true for me, and for many of my coworkers.

A few times my hard work was rewarded with promotions, but several other times I was passed over. I was often confused on what it would take to get ahead.

There was not shortage of well-intentioned advice from my managers and peers. I was told to be more visible, be more confident, and be more something else that was impossible to understand.

None of the feedback was to work harder or deliver more results. Nor was it explicit in describing the areas — skills or competencies — that I needed to develop.

In fact, much of it made me feel like I needed to become someone I wasn’t to finally get promoted. I nearly lost hope that I would ever move up. 

But instead of calling it quits, my career stall-outs and frustrations drove me to think about my path to a promotion differently.

Cracking the Code on Career Advancement

I was on a mission to crack the code on career advancement. I began to study how my colleagues advanced their careers and personally helped guide several members of my team toward their own well-deserved promotions.

As a manager, I had a front-row seat to countless discussions about promotions. This gave me some valuable insights into how decisions were made about who would climb the career ladder and who would stay put. I also learned from my own ups and downs in my career.

Through these experiences, I began to see some clear patterns and behaviors that determined where people ended up in their careers. Over time, I got pretty good at spotting those who probably wouldn’t move up:

– The individuals who became consumed with perfecting their personal style through superficial tips and tricks at the expense of developing essential skills and capabilities.

– Those who dedicated more time to networking and schmoozing, only to be eventually exposed for their lack of substance.

– People who experienced one too many career setbacks, felt mistreated by management, blamed others for their situation, and grew an increasingly bad attitude.

– Individuals who justified their inaction by saying “if that’s what it takes to get promoted, forget it,” instead of working to find a better way forward.

On the flip side, I also saw people who adapted their behaviors and developed the skills needed for promotions. They took charge of their careers, showed creativity in achieving their goals, and bounced back from tough times.

I’ll be honest, I’m not the quickest learner, so it took me some time to really process and grasp what I was discovering. However, once I started putting these lessons into action in my own career, I slowly but surely moved up in my career.

It turns out — during this time, I was learning a ton about how to manage my career on my own terms. I started to see how certain actions and behaviors laddered up to a few higher-level abilities. And these abilities had the power to either make or break my next promotion.

I began to organize these learnings into 5 essential abilities for career advancement—and fondly named them the Promotion Principles.

Your Career Journey Can Be Better Than Mine

As I reflect on my years climbing the corporate ladder, I’m grateful for all that I was able to experience—the many highs and lows helped shape where I am today. Corporate has been a great place to grow my career.

But my career journey could have been better. Had I known back then, when I accepted my first corporate job, what I know now…

– I wouldn’t have experienced as much frustration and disappointment.

– I wouldn’t have wasted time following nonsensical career advice.

– I would have focused on developing the abilities that matter most to move up sooner.

– I would have advanced my career faster and earned more money quicker.

My career journey hasn’t been particularly noteworthy or exceptional. I’m a regular, ordinary employee who managed to gradually advance my career. In fact, I probably advanced my career slower than many others.

And if I can do it, you most certainly can too!



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