How to Find a Company You’ll Want to Stay At and How to Move Up Once You’re There

Sponsored: This content was created in partnership with American Express.  The opinions here are of the featured employees and do not reflect those of the Company or FindSpark. 

At American Express, the company’s job is to help you excel at yours. When you join American Express, you’ll have access to world-class leadership and learning experiences, an opportunity to create a unique career journey shaped by your talent and curiosity, and the ability to engage with leaders and coworkers who will help you excel in all you do. All this, combined with comprehensive benefits and a culture of inclusion, makes American Express a unique place to join, stay and grow your career.

To learn more about life at American Express visit their careers site, and check out their job board for current openings. 

It’s no secret that the job market and employee retention rates have changed. It’s considered common for young professionals to “job-hop,” as experts call it. According to a 2019 Deloitte survey of Millennials, 49 percent—would, if they had a choice, quit their current jobs in the next two years, up from 38 percent in 2017.

Nadine, Director of Digital Marketing at American Express, has been with the company since 2013, and it’s easy to see why by all the opportunities and growth she has had there. We sat down with her to discuss what has made her stay with American Express for so long and get her take on the “job-hoppers.”

Let’s start at the beginning. You left advertising to join “a global brand,” but what was it about American Express specifically that attracted you?

I have always admired American Express as a brand and imagined that working at one of the world’s most recognizable brands must take a team of top-notch talent, which to me would be an incredible opportunity where I could really learn and grow. But to be honest, the only reason I actually considered applying for an open role at American Express was because I was passed up for what I thought was a well-deserved promotion at my previous employer. Knowing that leadership at my previous employer didn’t recognize me and wasn’t supportive of my growth was a red flag that it was time to move on and search for a new role.

How did you find the American Express opportunity you applied for? What was the hiring process like? What was the moment you decided, “this is the place for me?”

Oddly enough, the role I applied for wasn’t actually the role that I ended up getting. I found an open role on a popular job posting site, managing direct to consumer marketing campaigns. I wasn’t too familiar with the core responsibilities but thought I met enough of the qualifications to learn quickly and get up to speed. I was so excited thinking, “this is it!” I applied for the role and as a first step in the interview process, had a phone screening. I remember thinking at the end of the screening that the job wasn’t a good fit. I wasn’t the only one that felt that way because the HR recruiter messaged me a few days later letting me know they decided to move forward with another candidate. I thought I just missed my one opportunity to join American Express and moved on looking for other roles, but a few weeks later, a recruiter reached out to schedule an interview for an open digital marketing manager role because the hiring leader came across my resume and wanted to meet with me. Looking at the requirements, I knew I was the perfect fit and I ended up getting that very role.

There was no true, “this is the place for me moment.” I knew from the very beginning that I would jump at the opportunity to work at American Express.

How has American Express invested in you personally as a leader?

There are so many opportunities for training and career development. There’s access to leadership to get guidance, career advice, and professional development via mentorship, coffee chats, etc.; that’s very common here. There are processes in place to ensure reoccurring development conversations happen. I’ve made it a point to take advantage of all the resources available to me, especially at the point in time when I was ready to be promoted from senior manager to director. I met with many people for guidance, support, and advocacy to ensure I had the tools needed to successfully get promoted.

Who and what is your community at American Express and how do they support you both professionally and personally?

My community here at American Express is all the people I’ve met and have grown to know since starting here six years ago. Some are still in my immediate team, some have moved on to different parts of the business within the company. These are folks who I’ve experienced triumphs and losses with both in and outside of work, who I can complain to or celebrate with and it’s comforting to know that they know exactly where I’m coming from because they’ve seen my progression here and I’ve seen their progression and they understand the nuances and have shared similar work experiences. They get it, and they get me, and I love that.

You’ve been at American Express for six years now. How has the company prepared you for leadership before each promotion, including your current role as a Director of Digital Marketing?

I think leadership preparation is something that everyone has access to no matter where you are in your career. Your level of preparedness will be dependent on the level of effort you decide to put forth to seek out information. For a long time, I thought, “if I work hard enough, my boss or someone would eventually notice and tell me that I’m ready for a promotion and I should start thinking about the next step.” While that does happen, that wasn’t my experience when I was ready to be promoted to director. It wasn’t until I proactively vocalized that I wanted a director role and flat-out asked if I would be supported in getting one that I started to make traction. I received actionable feedback on what I needed to do and who I needed to talk to. When I was crystal clear on what I wanted, folks were able to be transparent in providing the support, and eager to do so!

Can you tell us more about the Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) Committee within the U.S. Consumer Marketing organization? How did you get involved? What prompted you to get involved?

The Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) Committee within the U.S. Consumer Marketing group was recently launched to support the company’s larger goal of becoming a destination of diverse talent and fostering a sense of belonging to continue to make the organization an exceptional place to work. During a development conversation with my leader earlier last year, I shared how I wanted to be more involved and participate in initiatives to drive inclusion and diversity across the company. Shortly thereafter, I was approached to see if I was interested in being a co-chair for I&D within the organization and I jumped at the opportunity.

What best practice or tip do you have to foster inclusivity?

There are so many but one very small and easy way to foster inclusivity is by engaging in micro-inclusions whenever you can throughout your day-to-day. Micro-inclusions are small, often subtle gestures we make when interacting with other folks to cultivate a sense of belonging. These can be things like smiling at a new, unfamiliar face or helping a new team member feel welcome. 

Being a new parent, how does American Express support you in balancing your home and work life?

I think American Express does a great job of embracing a flexible work environment. I can easily adjust my schedule to accommodate late drop-offs in the mornings or early pick-ups in the evenings. I have the flexibility to work from home two days a week, which is a tremendous help because it allows me to spend time with my daughter without feeling like I’m rushing to meet a deadline. When I first had my daughter, I was able to take six months parental leave which to me was invaluable. I had the additional time to connect with her and felt ready to return to work at the end of my leave. Feeling like I was ready to go back to work meant the world to me because once I did return, I was able to give a lot more attention to settling back in at work.

Have you ever felt “imposter syndrome” as you’ve moved up at American Express, or have you always felt confident and prepared for the next step?

For me, as it relates to the jobs I’ve gone after or gotten, no I have not felt imposter syndrome and I think that’s merely because I have never gotten a role that I didn’t feel 100% qualified or ready for. I made sure I checked every box, if not through education, then through experience. 

However, there are definitely moments in meetings where I feel like my contributions are inadequate in comparison to others. In those moments, I try to be kind to myself and remind myself that all contributions are meaningful and that I will be always learning.

What are your tips for people at companies that don’t outwardly share or provide growth opportunities as American Express does? How can they be proactive and make opportunities for themselves?

Vocalize exactly what you want from leadership there and if they aren’t listening or making proactive attempts to hear you, acknowledge you, make changes, or put you on a path for what you want, leave (after you’ve landed that amazing new position, of course). That’s the advice I would have given my younger self. If you’re honest and self-aware and know despite your best efforts in trying — exceeding in your job performance, asking for stretch projects, extending patience and communicating what you want ––you’re still not getting exposed to the opportunities you should be given, it’s time to look for those opportunities elsewhere

Find companies that have the values you share and opportunities that are meaningful to you. Put yourself out there and network (which, as a proud introvert, I hate doing). It’s easier for me to network with people I already know so the connection doesn’t feel forced. I’ll go through my prior work profile connections and if I see that they are at companies I would be interested in I reach out. Find out if there are open roles, then offer to meet up with them over coffee to learn more about their experience working there.

Having conversations about promotions, raises, and stretch assignments can be uncomfortable and nerve-wracking for many people, especially when they are just starting out in their careers. What are your tips for making these difficult conversations easier?

My best tip for making those difficult conversations easier is preparing what I’m asking for as much as I can before actually asking. If I were seeking a raise, I would be prepared to speak to the incremental work I’m doing or prepared to do to substantiate the raise. I would look at what the competitive salaries are based on my skillset and level of experience to ensure they meet what I’m asking for. Once I’ve done the homework, rehearse my pitch to ensure my request is succinct and to the point. To make the ask feel less daunting, you can also send an email to highlight what you’re looking for (without giving all the details away) and then following-up with asking for a meeting or discussion is the hard part. “The Ask,” is already out there and now you are just having the conversation on the reasons why. I will say that I’ve had a lot more success in asking directly but do what you feel most comfortable with and know you should always ask. It’s ok to ask and asking is the right thing to do, always.

It’s said that nearly half of millennials don’t stay at their workplaces for longer than two years. How would you respond to that, being someone who has worked in one place for over five years? What are some of the benefits of committing to one company?

I can certainly understand, and I get it. Very often, to get promoted and to reach your earning potential you have to make the jump to another company. I think it’s partly because companies aren’t creating clear pathways for employees to move within and upward in the company to keep them motivated and engaged. On the other side, we often want success or upward mobility to happen much sooner than what it often takes. If you are at a company that has the tools and opportunities available for you to develop and grow within your career, have honest conversations about where you are and what you envision your career path to be. That will help you stay engaged and motivated.

What’s kept me at American Express for six years is that I have continuously felt motivated, challenged, and received opportunities to grow when I asked for them. I always feel like I’m learning something new. The main benefit of that is I have a network of supporters and advocates who I’m able to get coaching and guidance from and who I can rely on to advocate on my behalf when needed. It’s also allowed me to feel like I’ve made meaningful contributions to the company as I’ve been here long enough to see projects start as an idea and launch in the marketplace. That’s been a satisfying and rewarding experience.

To learn more about life at American Express visit their careers site, and check out their job board for current openings.

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