I went from earning £23k to over £400k and I’ve felt proud and guilty
NHS, free education and social equality are high on my agenda when it comes to the ballot box. Whilst I wait for the country to sort it's priorities out, I donate every month to my local food bank and a homeless charity in London. It is the minimum a fortunate high earner can do.
Tell me about yourself
34(F) from a working class family in Ireland. Spent periods of my childhood where my family were on benefits. I didn't go to college but I was lucky enough to fall into a tech job aged 18 with a large multi national. It was cold calling, uninspiring and not particularly stimulating but I did well at it and the opportunities grew from there. I spent 15 years at that company and finally pushed myself out of my comfort zone and the company I grew up in 18 months ago. I went from £23k to £200k over those 15 years and with my new job, I take home more like £400k per annum. The work is demanding, my work life balance is far from ideal at times but I am financially secure, can treat my family and friends and I was fortunate enough to be able to clear my parents mortgage.
Do you enjoy your job?
I enjoy my job 90% of the time. The work is interesting and the people care about what they do but that other 10%... I weigh up if the stress is really worth it. Could I have a more stable and predictable job, with more free time and happiness but less money?
How do you feel about your situation?
Mostly I think about how lucky I am to have been given the opportunities I have. Social mobility is a hot topic these days and I think levelling the playing field for those without degrees or a traditional path into jobs like tech and finance is so important. I was afforded opportunities to succeed and also had some luck along the way and I definitely recognise the role of the latter.
How do you spend your income?
In my twenties I spent all of my disposable income. Every. Single. Month. These days I max out my matched pension contributions, invest 50% of my monthly income in shares, 80% of which goes into blue chip stocks and some 20% in more adventurous bets.
The other 50% of my wage I spend on rent and bills, vacations and treating friends and family. I vote Labour and believe I should pay higher taxes than I do. NHS, free education and social equality are high on my agenda when it comes to the ballot box. Whilst I wait for the country to sort its priorities out, I donate every month to my local food bank and a homeless charity in London. It is the minimum a fortunate high earner can do.
What field do you work in and what does your job entail?
My job is working for a consulting and technology firm in the city. I run one of their technology practices for the UK and personally work with 2-3 major clients on tech transformation programmes.
Do you have any practical advice for an ambitious person wanting to do the same?
Luck played a big part in my career but these days there are so many different pathways to explore. Degree apprenticeships are amazing if you are starting out as you gain rich work experience alongside a degree. Or if like me you have skipped college, explore some of the bootcamp and retraining options offered by big firms. Personally I took all the challenges afforded to me that I could manage whilst keeping a sensible balance in my life and I worked hard at the less interesting stuff, even though I wanted to disengage. I knew it was temporary and there was much I could do to invest in myself in parallel. I guess the last one is key, investment in yourself. Learn, push a bit outside the comfort zone and be kind to yourself when you misstep.
How did you get the job you have today?
I got a place to study English but deferred it a year to concentrate on becoming a world famous sports person (obviously did not work out!).
I moved into a good company, at the right time, because a sympathetic hiring manager took a chance on me. I landed on the right projects early that allowed me to prove myself and with some older experienced colleagues who cared enough to coach me along the way. One pivotal job change in my old firm came about because two people who would not normally talk hiring decisions had a conversation. One of those individuals had recently worked with me and said despite my relatively young age, I would do a certain role well. That role shaped the next 5-6 years of my career including my latest job change
How do you feel about being a high earner?
I have learned over the years to wrestle with my guilt. It is hard, especially coming from the background I do. In terms of my family, I have an emergency fund of money held by my mother as I have two older brothers who would never ask their younger sister for help if needed but would likely ask my mum. I know nothing about what goes in or out of that account. I trust my mother to manage it. Day to day, I try to do the right thing where I can. I support my local food bank consistently each month, a homeless charity and a charity I support abroad. I tip every taxi, deliveroo driver, waiter/ waitress, beautician and tip well. If I am out with friends, I often pick up the tab, particularly if they are in a tight spot. It is kind of unspoken and it works. I am always looking at ways I can do more but I have learned to put that particular guilt to bed and just try to be kind each day.
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