I never thought that I would stop working after my twins were born to be a stay-at-home-mom, but I did. During that time I learned a few things: I learned that I unconditionally love my children and that I love being a mom, but also that moms don’t have to feel guilty for wanting something for themselves. And for me, I wanted to continue my career. So I submitted my resume for my dream job and was happily surprised when they actually called me for an interview.
The interview went very well and I was essentially offered the job on the spot. Though the compensation they offered was lower than what I expected for a position with this type of global responsibility and less than I was accustomed to, I thought to myself, “I can’t believe I just got offered my dream job,” and excitedly accepted the offer. The amount of compensation was not a priority for me – I felt so grateful that I was being given this opportunity.
To make a long story short, I thrived in my position and delivered more than was expected. I made significant cost reductions through reorganization and streamlining programs; increased the strategic value of the team; and established the company as a thought leader in the industry. I was so excited about what my team and I collectively achieved that I didn’t even notice that our hard work often went unnoticed.
It wasn’t until I was at a conference and my “girl crush” Mika Brzezinski – co-host of CNBC’s Morning Joe and author of All Things at Once and Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth – was the keynote speaker. She talked about how and why men generally receive higher compensation than women for the same work, commenting that women are “grateful” for opportunities and they don’t typically ask for what they want even if they know they are worth it. Her words rang true with me and I thought back on the past few years of my working life. While my situation had nothing to do with men getting paid more than women, it had a lot to do with knowing my worth.
In my reflection, I realized that I had taken a position that I knew was worth more but I hadn’t even asked for more. I worked hard and exceeded expectations without thinking twice about it – I did, after all, love the work I was doing and it was my “dream job”…how could I ask for more? But what I heard Mika speak about stuck with me. One afternoon, my phone rang and a recruiter was on the other end. While I greatly valued the opportunity to work at such an impactful organization and I look back fondly on my time there, I knew in my heart of hearts that it was time for me to start a new career chapter.
Just as I learned a few things when I became a mother, I also learned some invaluable lessons through this experience: in any economy, appreciate your team – a lot of managers think that the economy makes it difficult for people to leave the company, but there are always good jobs for good people; stay close to your talent – no matter how high your position is within an organization, take time to connect with and recognize your teams; empower your high-potential employees – help them determine a career path and ensure they have opportunities to apply their skills.
But above all, be sincere and show your team that they are appreciated. And most importantly, say thank you…and really mean it.