This post first appeared on Forbes.com
Welcome to The Salary Chronicles, where we’re bringing transparency to negotiation and salaries, one story at a time. We ask women to share their experiences negotiating their salary and what their advice is for others doing the same. We share these stories anonymously so they feel comfortable speaking as openly and as freely as possible.
This week we’re speaking with a woman who had the courage to ask for a promotion to a VP position, and a 20% raise, six months after starting with the company.
Title: VP of Marketing, Luxury Goods Industry
Location: New York, NY
Original salary: $125K
Salary asked for: $150K
What was the situation when you decided to negotiate your salary?
I was six months into my role as a marketing manager for a small, luxury brand. There was only one other marketing manager and she had just put in her notice, leaving a role open.
One of my concerns about working for such a small company was that there weren’t many opportunities for growth. I reported to the VP Strategy and Sales who reported to the CMO.
When the other manager left I agreed to take on some of her work until a replacement could be found. After a couple weeks with the additional workload I realized that this could be my chance to create an opportunity for myself to grow. I started mapping out a new organization structure for marketing. I wanted to re-structure the workflow to create a marketing director role for myself and promote one of our marketing assistants to a marketing manager.
It would be a win-win: I’d get a promotion and the company would save money by not having to hire an additional employee.
Though I was still new to the company, I knew this was my chance to move up.
How did you approach the conversation?
I started first with my direct boss, the VP. I brought forward my plan with the new organizational structure and how I envisioned the group working. I was hoping that if I could sell her on this, she would be able to easily get it approved by the CMO.
Instead, I was a little shocked when she brushed me off. She told me that organizational changes needed to be approved by the CMO so if I wanted to talk about this I’d need to speak directly with him. I was a little disheartened by the fact she wouldn’t help support my growth and my plan, but I decided that I couldn’t let it stop there. I booked a meeting with the CMO for a few days later.
Before I went into my meeting with him, I decided to be bolder. As there was no VP of Marketing, I thought it would make sense to create this role so I would report directly to the CMO. It was a big ask, but I felt like my performance in my short time there had been incredibly strong and the plan would still benefit the company by not requiring another employee to be hired.
How did the conversation go?
He was interested but also hesitant. We hadn’t worked together much and this was a big change for our little marketing organization. As I advocated for this I emphasized the cost benefit for the company.
At the end of the conversation he told me that he would put the search for another marketing manager on hold and we could test run this format for the next month or so to see if it made sense.
We didn’t talk about a raise in this conversation – I wanted to prove that this was going to work before I asked for what I wanted.
What happened next?
During the next two months I had bi-weekly meetings with him to talk about the new structure, new marketing initiatives, and the vision that I had for the group. I think he saw how passionate I was about making this work and he began to get more comfortable working with me.
After two months I knew that I needed to push him to make a decision and to make this official. In our next meeting I laid out my updated plan in writing, based on some revisions we had talked about. I then laid out my ask: I wanted to have a VP title, I wanted to report directly to him, and I wanted a 20% raise to $150K. I asked him to agree to the plan and I could work with HR to make it official.
He took a minute looking it over and then said that it made sense for the company, I had proven myself, and he would sign off on everything I proposed.
What advice do you have for other women?
There are a few moments in your career where you can be incredibly bold and take full advantage of an opportunity in front of you. When you get this moment, you have to seize it. Had I stopped when my boss didn’t want to support this change, I would still be in the same role wishing I had done something. It took a lot of courage to present my idea to the CMO and advocate for myself for the next two months, but it paid off.