Good morning, and welcome back to Working Women Wednesday – where I share the stories of successful women from around the world. Today I have another great interview lined up with Ashley, a Sourcing Manager with two young boys. She’s both a six figure earner and the family breadwinner. It was actually her husband who reached out to me and put us in touch – it’s great to see someone being so supportive of their spouses accomplishments!
So without further ado, lets hear Ashley’s story.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m a working mom for sure! I am a Sourcing Manager responsible for a team that purchases both raw materials and finished goods from a global supply chain. At home I have two young boys and a very supportive working husband. The boys are 2.5 and 8 months so we are very busying molding them into polite, adventurous little boys. We spend a lot of time as a family outdoors…hiking, biking, on the playground, or in the garden. When we can’t get outside the house gets a little chaotic because we all get a little stir crazy. We’re located in Eastern PA so we’re very much looking forward to Springtime so we can get back outside more often.
Let’s get some details – how much money do you make, and how long did it take you to get there? And are you a millionaire or are you on the way?
I recently moved into 6 digits but a portion of my pay is also bonus based on my company’s performance. I’m at the point where my individual performance impacts the company’s performance….so this is a great incentive! I’m certainly not a millionaire…and am not even sure that’s an achievable goal right now because we like to spend what we make 🙂 Especially while the boys are young….we want to expose them to as many different experiences as possible!
How did you get started in the workforce?
I started as a product engineer fresh out of college. I had done a few internships throughout college and treated them like a ‘weeding out process’ of the industries I didn’t want to work in! Once I found product development…I was hooked. The projects I was working on were tangible, my friends and family knew all about the brands I was working on and it was super rewarding to see something I had worked on in the store.
How did you get from where you started to where you are now?
From the engineering function – I moved into the Operations division first as a supply chain designer and then into a sourcing function. These moves were quick!….and were a perfect fit for my engineering and product development background and my brand new MBA. Moving out of engineering also allowed me to move up a little faster and have given me a more well-rounded view of the industry and made me a better cross functional partner. I’m always looking at the next opportunity whether it’s a lateral move to expand my skill set – or up the ladder. If I’m not striving for more I get complacent in the role, and my performance slips.
Where do you want to go in your career – and your financial life?
I want to go all the way to the top! I think of my career as a spiral stair case…I want to expand my skill set as I work my way up. By the time I get to the top I’ll have a really balanced view of the entire business. Financially…I want to feel stable and be able to support an adventurous lifestyle for my family. I’m not looking to take us on month long expeditions in Africa!…but if we can get away for a weekend in the woods or a long weekend at the beach we’re happy. I’m believe in the ‘mo money mo problems’ line, but we’re not there yet!
What’s the biggest challenge in being a breadwinning mom? What’s the best part?
I’m the breadwinner and my husband is very supportive of that. We certainly share the parenting duties – but if I have to jet off for a week he can handle the kids. I wouldn’t be able to be so successful without his support. The challenge is that it requires him to push for more and more flexibility in his job. He has also become a bit antsy to launch his own business which he doesn’t have time to work on between his current job (which we can’t afford to give up) and helping with the boys. I can’t pick up the extra slack with the kids to free up some of his time, so he’s stuck working late and on the weekends to try to get his business going. I’m still trying to find a way to support his ambitions without giving up on my own.
What do you see as the key to earning such a high salary?
I was honestly humbled when I hit six figures- I didn’t believe in my own worth maybe? That is something wrong with most women. Since then I’ve done the research to really evaluate my worth – and pushed for it. I’m still not making what I want – even in my current role – but I’m pushing to get there. The key is…’you’re worth it!’
CMO Note – this is often called “impostor syndrome”, where people (especially women) think that they don’t really deserve the success they’ve achieved. I suffer from it myself, and you see it repeatedly in these interviews. I remember first reading about it on Ask a Manager, and thinking “Yep! That’s exactly how I feel!”
Have you ever experienced issues in the workforce because you’re a woman? What did you do in response?
Coming up in engineering I was certainly the minority as a female! I felt like I had to prove myself that much more and it has certainly paid off. As a working mom one of my recent challenges has been keeping up with breastfeeding the baby while being a jetsetter at work.
Without our oldest I had to go to Asia for a week and when I landed my pump had died. Talk about being forced to wean!…but it was time to anyways. This time around I’ve had to ‘tip toe’ around the topic when meeting with different vendors and customers. ‘Excuse me while step out of this very important meeting to take 20 minutes for myself’ just isn’t a line that flies at this level. I’ve figured out how to adjust my schedule to fit it all in – it just takes some flexibility and some extra planning.
Chief Mom Officer is primarily a personal finance blog – tell us about your saving and investment strategy
We currently have our shared savings account and health savings account, our 401Ks and we have 529s set up for the boys. I wish we were contributing more into each of the accounts! Our strategy is that we literally drain our checking account between paychecks. I move all of the money out (towards bills first… then savings) and leave only what we need until our next paycheck. It helps us keep to our budget. I’ll literally text my husband the night before a payday to say ‘account is below $20 – don’t buy anything!’. I’ve learned to keep a buffer in there now, since sometimes that text doesn’t get read 🙂
What’s the top three pieces of advice you’d have for someone just starting out in the workforce, struggling with their career, or just looking to improve how they handle their money?
I read Smart Women Finish Rich early in my career. It wasn’t 100% relevant at the time but the big take away was stop frivolous spending because it really adds up. Another tip – set a budget! I have our budget set up with a ‘1 year outlook’ so I can see where we’ll be financially 1 year from today. It helps keeps our goals in mind.
In terms of your career…don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities or apply for other jobs. Have confidence in your skill level and ability to think on your feet. Put yourself into a ‘stretch position’ every now and then and see how you do. Each success you have along the way should boost your confidence. Each ‘failure’ was a learning experience.
Where can people connect with you?
I’m on Facebook!…and LinkedIn. That’s as much social media as I can handle with everything else going on 🙂
CMO note – I reached out to ask if Ashley wanted folks reading this to be able to reach out to her. Here’s a link to her LinkedIn page – if you reach out to connect with her there, please be sure to include “Chief Mom Officer Article” in the subject line of your connection request so she knows you came from this site.
CMO Here Again
A huge “thank you” again to Ashley for stopping by to share her story with us! Be sure to leave a comment for her.
As I mentioned above, I find it interesting so many of these interviews talk about different women feeling a sense of “impostor syndrome”, where they feel like they don’t really deserve the success that they’ve had. I’ve talked before about how women should feel proud of being the breadwinner – I think this is one of the keys for us to be successful. We need to reframe our thinking on these subjects. Instead of thinking of all the reasons why we don’t deserve the success we’ve had, we should remind ourselves to be proud of our accomplishments.
I could also relate to the story she shared about juggling nursing and working. I’ve nursed all three of my boys while working full time, and I can tell you it’s a huge pain in the butt at times. Managing business travel, meetings, and needing to take breaks for pumping can be really tough to coordinate. I have vivid memories of taking a week-long business trip to San Diego when my youngest was only six months old, and what a pain it was to try to juggle it all.
If you haven’t already, be sure to swing by my one-stop shop page for Breadwinning moms, featuring all my prior articles and interviews (plus some updates on prior interviewees!). Know someone that would be perfect for this series, or is that you? Hop over to my “Be Featured!” page to access the request form.
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