Climbing the Corporate Ladder

For almost two years now my husband and I have been on this journey towards financial independence/retire early (FIRE) so the thought of climbing the corporate ladder was not on the forefront of my mind.  After all, I am trying to leave the corporate world.  But last fall I was faced with a big decision, should I climb?

The company I work for is a two-person operation for day to day management even though we are under a larger company.  So when my boss, representing 50% of the workforce, pulled me aside last fall and told me he would be retiring in Nov of 2016 I had a huge decision ahead of me.  Should I take over?

He took me out to lunch and explained his plans a full year ahead of time knowing that this had a huge effect on me.  Since I already have a few years under my belt with this company plus years of experience beforehand, I was the obvious choice for the job.  But I surprised him by saying no, I actually didn’t want want to be in change.  I was perfectly fine being a worker bee.  Over the following months we would periodically throw around names of people who we thought might be a good fit for his replacement but as his retirement was still secret at this point and we had plenty of time, the conversations didn’t go much further.

Then this spring he finally made his retirement plans public knowledge to the company who we report to.  Now that the conversation about his replacement was open I felt like I had some explaining to do.  I needed to let him know the real reason why I didn’t want the job; I had other plans.  This time I took my boss out to lunch and let him in our our little (actually its pretty huge) secret and how we were hoping to retire from the workforce in around 5 years.  To date, he is one of the few people who even knows this plan.  And he actually loved the idea.  So now with him in full understanding of my decision, we broke the news to the higher-ups, who were completely surprised and a little blindsided by this news.

Over the coming weeks and after a lot of thinking I finally decided that maybe I could and should just take the promotion.  After all, everything truly believed I was the best choice for the job, it would be hard to find another replacement, I had the knowledge to jump right in, and I would have the chance to make a little extra money in the meantime.  I was certainly hesitant as my boss had many years of experience and knowledge but I was willing to at least give it a shot.

The discussions about salary didn’t start until late the in summer but I wanted to go into this conversation prepared.  I once again took my boss out to lunch to pick his brain a little.  I explained that I had a meeting to discuss my salary and wanted to know his thoughts.  Thankfully I didn’t have to directly ask how much he was making as he just offered up the info.  He has a base salary, which I knew was more than what I could ask for, but also received commissions on top of this.  Despite our primary role is as a wholesaler, we do periodically sell and he has been able to build up a nice little commission base over the years.

With his numbers in mind, I decided on a number that I would ask for.  I know that statistically women make less than men and this is partially due to not asking for what they are worth and I did not want to be another static.  So although I knew I couldn’t ask for what he was making, I was going to ask for a nice high number.  They offered me a number which was less than my number I wanted so I negotiated, selling myself as much as I could, pointing out that I had only gotten one cost of living raise since starting the job.  We ended up settling in the middle of our two numbers which I was very happy with.  I am finally making more than the average for a current college graduate, even though I have been out of college for 15 years.  And if you look at the pay increase as a percentage, it a 35% increase which is pretty awesome!  I am so excited that instead of having a lifestyle increase, like most people would, I am just going to throw all of this new money into our savings.  I can’t wait to see how much this helps over the next few years.  Although I have decided to treat myself to a manicure as I haven’t gotten one since starting this journey.  I haven’t had any time yet but am looking forward to this one little treat.

Then the next step was figuring out someone to replace my old position.  When I reflect on my work satisfaction I realized that there is a direct correlation with how busy I am at work.  If I am bored, I tend to daydream about other things I could be doing with my time; traveling, hiking or snowboarding, or just out in the world enjoying time with my husband.  Personal finance blogs certainly give you plenty of things to dream about.  But if I am busy, I tend to be happier.  With this knowledge in hand, I wanted to find an employee who had some experience in our industry but who wasn’t too overqualified to the point where we were both bored but who had enough knowledge to be helpful.

I hired someone who started last Monday and so far so good!  My boss was still here for a week overlap to help train on some things.  She has some stuff to learn but I think she is a good fit.  We get along, she can take on some of the regular daily tasks and I will continue with the more complicated parts of the job.  I think I might have a harder time leaving my job at work as I have already started to think about things when I am at home but thankfully not to the point of where it adds any stress to my home life.  I am hopeful that I will be content with my work over the next few years, maybe even happier than I have been over the past few years as we continue to build and grow our assets.

Over the coming months I am really hoping to continue my blog as I do enjoy sharing my story with the world and it also helps me to stay on track.  But if there is more time in-between posts, like there have been over the past couple of months, it is likely because my new position is taking more time.  I am very excited about what this job can do for me (ie: bring in more $$) so here I go!  Wish me luck!

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