Salary Story: By Relocating Often, I Earn 175k At 33 Years Old

·4 min read

In our series Salary Stories, women with long-term career experience open up about the most intimate details of their jobs: compensation. It’s an honest look at how real people navigate the complicated world of negotiating, raises, promotions and job loss, with the hope it will give young women more insight into how to advocate for themselves — and maybe take a few risks along the way.

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Age: 33
Location: London
Current industry and job title: Chief people officer in luxury fashion
Current salary: £175,000
Number of years employed since school or university: 17

Starting salary: £8,500 in 2004
Biggest salary jump: £125,000 to £175,000 in 2020
Biggest salary drop: £47,500 to £20,000 in 2014

Biggest negotiation regret: When I moved back to London from Exeter in 2016 I got offered a job at £36,500, which at the time was £11,500 more than my salary in Devon. I didn't think to check the living costs and they asked me to start immediately but only offered £300 per week for accommodation. I didn't ask for more or negotiate the salary and I was out of pocket for living costs and struggled on the low salary. I left after eight months.

Best salary advice: Never tell people what you're on, tell them what your expectations are and always consider the full package.

I didn't go to university so this was straight out of college in the Midlands. I was so annoyed because they hired another support engineer on £13,500 while I was there on £8,500. I stayed for three years.
I didn't go to university so this was straight out of college in the Midlands. I was so annoyed because they hired another support engineer on £13,500 while I was there on £8,500. I stayed for three years.
I applied for a management training programme in retail and got a place on £13,500. I had to relocate to Croydon to do the role, which was a huge move, but that year's contract was invaluable for learning general management.
I applied for a management training programme in retail and got a place on £13,500. I had to relocate to Croydon to do the role, which was a huge move, but that year's contract was invaluable for learning general management.
I took a role at another well-known retail brand at the end of the programme despite being offered a permanent position because the salary was so low (£19,000) and it was extremely hard to live in London on that salary. The role I took was £24,000. Both roles were in zone 1.
I took a role at another well-known retail brand at the end of the programme despite being offered a permanent position because the salary was so low (£19,000) and it was extremely hard to live in London on that salary. The role I took was £24,000. Both roles were in zone 1.
The salary in retail had been so low that I'd had to take on a part-time bartender job in the evenings. In the end I was offered a general manager role with free accommodation and a pay rise to £28,000 so I moved to hospitality.
The salary in retail had been so low that I'd had to take on a part-time bartender job in the evenings. In the end I was offered a general manager role with free accommodation and a pay rise to £28,000 so I moved to hospitality.
I moved bar chains because I wanted to work somewhere more stable where I could develop. This role offered me training so I could progress and my salary went up to £32,000.
I moved bar chains because I wanted to work somewhere more stable where I could develop. This role offered me training so I could progress and my salary went up to £32,000.
The bar chain promoted me after two years because of my sales results and I slowly took over 50% of the P&Ls. My base was good (£47,500) and came with a good quarterly bonus of £5,000.
The bar chain promoted me after two years because of my sales results and I slowly took over 50% of the P&Ls. My base was good (£47,500) and came with a good quarterly bonus of £5,000.
I had to move to Devon and didn't want to work in hospitality anymore. I wanted to move to HR so I had to take a pay cut to £20,000 to start again on the HR route.
I had to move to Devon and didn't want to work in hospitality anymore. I wanted to move to HR so I had to take a pay cut to £20,000 to start again on the HR route.
I was promoted to senior team lead in the same year, going up to £25,000.
I was promoted to senior team lead in the same year, going up to £25,000.
I moved to a job for the same money because it was solely HR-focused and I could do my HR studies at the same time.
I moved to a job for the same money because it was solely HR-focused and I could do my HR studies at the same time.
I decided to relocate back to London and was offered this role in Guildford nearby for a small business. £36,000 felt like a big salary bump but was actually quite below market rate.
I decided to relocate back to London and was offered this role in Guildford nearby for a small business. £36,000 felt like a big salary bump but was actually quite below market rate.
I took a role in central London because I really didn't like my last company. The increase to £58,000 only just covered my commute costs but the company seemed committed to progression.
I took a role in central London because I really didn't like my last company. The increase to £58,000 only just covered my commute costs but the company seemed committed to progression.
In 2018 I was promoted to HR director on £90,000.
In 2018 I was promoted to HR director on £90,000.
Another promotion, this time to group HR director of the US and UK on £125,000.<br>
Another promotion, this time to group HR director of the US and UK on £125,000.
I took the decision to move after four years as the company wasn't growing and the parent company was trying to centralise. I had two companies at final stage and I really wanted one offer but the other company had a life-changing package. Luckily when I told the preferred company what it was, they matched it almost exactly, offering £175,000.<br> <br>I've been able to get this salary because I've been very flexible with moving and relocating, and I've always said yes to more responsibility. In the last decade I've worked for hyper growth businesses so it's meant I can quickly progress, but it's hard work.
I took the decision to move after four years as the company wasn't growing and the parent company was trying to centralise. I had two companies at final stage and I really wanted one offer but the other company had a life-changing package. Luckily when I told the preferred company what it was, they matched it almost exactly, offering £175,000.

I've been able to get this salary because I've been very flexible with moving and relocating, and I've always said yes to more responsibility. In the last decade I've worked for hyper growth businesses so it's meant I can quickly progress, but it's hard work.

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