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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Money

How This Supply Chain Pro Built a Purposeful and Profitable Career

Courtesy of Dorothy Mashburn
Courtesy of Dorothy Mashburn

For Dorothy Mashburn, a senior executive of global procurement based in Arizona, earning money was never the primary goal. “I wanted to be in a field that makes a difference,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to make an impact.”

She does that now in her role with a medical technology company, where she and her team are responsible for making sure that all of the supplies the company needs are available at the right price and at the right time.

But her path to this position is the interesting part. Dorothy came to the United States from a small province in India for her education, completing her undergrad in Accounting and Finance and pursuing her MBA right after. “It was a huge privilege to be able to come to the United States and get a degree here,” she adds.

When Dorothy started grad school, she was filled with optimism about her career prospects. “When I went to grad school in 2000, the market was great,” she explains. “Anybody graduating with their MBA at that time wasn’t taking less than $70,000. But, by the time I graduated, the bubble had burst and the economy was in extremely poor shape.”

Quick stats

  • Job: Senior Executive, Global Procurement for a medical technology company
  • Based in: Phoenix, AZ
  • Annual income: $150,000

Dorothy felt lucky that she was still able to line up two job opportunities—albeit, at a much lower wage than she anticipated. One job was in the management training program at Walmart and the other at the corporate office of Payless ShoeSource.

At that point, Dorothy did something surprising: she took the lower of the two offers. Walmart offered her $39,000 for a Management Trainee position, while Payless offered $45,000. But for Dorothy, the opportunity with Walmart seemed like a better fit. “I felt like it’d be a continuation of my education,” she shares.

She learned a lot in that position, but low pay was ultimately a motivator to move on to another company. When she did so, she felt like she had “hit it big” financially—accepting a $25,000 raise over her Walmart position. However, it didn’t take long for Dorothy to realize that she was still well below her earning potential.

While discussing home-buying with a male colleague, Dorothy mentioned offhand that she hadn’t been able to afford a home loan yet. Her male co-worker was perplexed. Eventually, they disclosed how much each of them was making “and I was making about $20,000 less than he was for the exact same job.”

Dorothy says it was that conversation that sparked her interest in compensation and negotiation. But, when she asked for a pay raise at that company, she was rejected. “I kept badgering. But I didn’t have the skills I have today in negotiating and advocating for myself, so it was a clumsy effort,” she says. She eventually managed to secure a 12% raise.

However, Dorothy feels it’s tough to get a meaningful pay bump with a current employer—sometimes, she says, the old “you need to move out to move up” adage holds, especially when it comes to money.

It was when Dorothy joined her current employer that she finally hit the six-figure milestone, seven years into her career. Dorothy says it had been a goal of hers for many years, after a home loan officer told her that six figures was the mark for being able to afford a bigger and better house. “That sort of stuck in my head,” she adds.

Today, she’s passionate about using her experience and her hard-won skills and knowledge to help other women approach negotiations with clarity and confidence, even recently starting a side hustle as a negotiation coach.

“We’ve all been taught that the relationship with money is awkward, especially for women,” she says. “It’s icky. It’s dirty. Pick your word. Not to get on a soapbox, but I feel like that’s a way to keep all of us in our places. So the more people who come out and speak about it, the less icky it gets.”

In her own words:

What’s your favorite thing about your job? The people I work with. They’re extremely talented and extremely creative people who want to make a difference.

If you could test-drive another career for a week, what would you choose? A motivational speaker.

Do you have any financial or savings goals this year? College education for my 14-year-old son. I want to have enough of a plan to make sure that his undergrad is covered, and then we are going to move on to the second son.

What’s your favorite thing you own that costs $50 or less? My cashmere sweater from Banana Republic that was on sale for $29. It’s very soft and comfy!

What’s your number one piece of career advice? Be ready to experiment. Be open and honest with yourself and give yourself the grace to experiment with different careers, different leaders, and different styles of work so you can find your true self.

Go here to read more about The Path to Six Figures, including stories from other women like Dorothy.

Level up to your own six-figure salary by signing up for Ladies Get Paid’s negotiation course. Click here for more info!