I joined a company 6 months after past lives in investment banking and consulting. While in professional services, I found that promotions came quickly, largely facilitated by the amount of turnover above me. Now that I'm working (and loving) corporate life, I find myself in new territory. My company has little turnover in the senior ranks, so I'm starting to wonder if/when I'll get a title bump next and what I should be doing now to encourage it.

Perhaps a little information might help the discussion.

The outstanding questions:
(a) Am I right to hope for a promotion to Director in the next 12 months (while still remaining in my current function)?
(b) Besides overdelivering on my responsibilities, is there something I should do to encourage such a promotion?

My background:
- 31 years old
- 4 years experience in capital markets
- Wharton MBA
- 2 years with McKinsey
- Currently 6 months into strategy role with publisher (a job that I love)

My current position:
- Currently a Manager reporting to EVP Strategy, with dotted line to CFO
- I, alone, am the Strategy department, with no direct reports (just lots of people within the company who help me in their spare time)
- I spend most of my time working on analysis and board documents for the CEO and leadership team
- Despite my "Manager" title, I get the impression that I'm paid like a Director. If promoted, I would not expect a raise (but would qualify for a company car allowance).
- Feedback to date has been uniformly positive (I have to beg for constructive feedback)
- HR and my EVP have been great about rewarding me with intangible perks (e.g., trip to big industry conference, inclusion in Director-level management development program, seat next to parent company CEO at off-site dinner, chance to present to parent company board of directors next month)
- When I interviewed for the role, HR suggested that I would serve this function for ~2 years and then have the chance to move somewhere else in the company. Now that I am on the inside, however, I can see that people are quite comfortable in their Director/VP positions.

If there isn't an appropriate role for me to take on after 2 years are up, then I'll be looking for a new gig. I think this search would be helped along if I were promoted at some point between now and then. I may be wrong, but I would imagine being received better by interviewers if I'm a Director vs. a Manager.

Any thoughts? I really appreciate any insight you may have to offer - no need to sugar coat!


rikt's picture

"What will you truly get if you are given the title of director? It sounds like it is more of an ego stroke, or change of a line on your business card? If your fundamental responsibilities don't change, you don't have direct reports, who or what can you exactly direct? Ask yourself if this thought process is truly limiting your career or these thoughts that you should have a title so it will look better for future interviews is your problem?

My firm has done away with very specific titles, they have removed the from the phone book (yes a very huge financial firm), we are merely a EVP, SVP, VP, AVP, Associate on down. The step titles have been done away with, much less distraction.

Set yourself some goals with the position, if it is truly making you happy, a better professional, and challenging you, does it really matter you are a "manager" rather than a "director?"

PierG's picture

I don't live in the US so I cant help.
If having a promotion is your goal, I hope you'll have it soon.
Anyway, I suggest that you have also a look at personal goals that you can reach by yourself: being prmoted doesn't depend entirely on you, learning management tools (for ex. listening to this cast :) ) does.

bichon75's picture

Thanks to both of you for posting thoughtful responses. Your input definitely helps as I try to strike a balance between being patient and advancing my interests. In my own head, I keep going back and forth between "good work is rewarded" and "nice guys finish last". Perhaps this tug of war doesn't make sense to others. Coming out of cut-throat places like ibanking, Wharton, and McKinsey, I might look at life a bit differently. You provided a good reminder that those experiences are not indicative of "real life".

Regardless, I really appreciate the insights found at Manager Tools and continue to apply them to my craft. I just facilitated a large meeting/workshop yesterday and MT helped me every step of the way.

Thanks again!