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Quitting Your Job Isn’t Cool Anymore With Grace Puma & Christiana Smith Shi

Haley Paskalides  |  March 6, 2024

Christiana Smith Shi & Grace Puma explain how to be unapologetically ambitious in your career — and why you should always stay one step ahead.

Navigating a career can be difficult, especially in today’s landscape where the state of the job market seems to be constantly in flux. While the aftermath of the pandemic caused huge numbers of people to quit their jobs in search of better wages or more work-life balance, those numbers seem to be cooling. Business Insider recently declared that “Quitting Your Job Isn’t Cool Anymore,” citing the “Big Stay” in the U.S. Labor Market with the number of people quitting their jobs back to where it was before the pandemic. 

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If you are choosing to stay put this year — you’re probably thinking about a way to move up the ladder — and you’re among many. According to a recent CNBC poll, nearly half of women polled describe themselves as “very ambitious” when it comes to their careers, and ambition among women of color is even higher. Grace Puma and Christiana Smith Shi, authors of the new book “Career Forward: Strategies By Women Who’ve Made It” think the word “ambition” has gotten a bad rap but Smith Shi says, “at the very least if you don’t feel comfortable acknowledging your ambition to others acknowledge it to yourself. That’s probably the most important thing. Acknowledge to yourself that you want to get somewhere, that you have bigger ideas, and that you want a bigger life.”

LISTEN: Ambition Is Not A Dirty Word

Both Smith Shi and Puma know what it’s like to be unapologetically ambitious and reach the top of Fortune 500 companies (Grace Puma is the former Executive Vice President and COO of PepsiCo, and Christiana Smith Shi is the former President of Nike’s consumer-direct division). Now, they want to share their learnings with other women. 

Smith Shi and Puma say the first step is to think about a longer-term career path, or what they refer to as a “cardinal direction.” 

“Especially when you’re starting out, it’s going to be very attractive to be able to start earning a good living and to accept a job based on salary,” Puma says. “But what you really need to think through is all of the things that go into defining what your aspirations look like over the journey of your career.” Puma says to ask yourself questions like: What are my passions? What are my strong capabilities? What type of environment do I want to work in? This will help you establish a career-oriented “North Star” that is more strategic than just chasing money or a title. 

They also advise reevaluating your job scope once a year to make sure you’re being compensated fairly. 

“If your job scope becomes much greater than what you were hired and being paid to do, document what you’re currently doing, what contributions you’re making, how much your scope has grown, and ask your supervisor if they can reevaluate your job to the market,” Puma says. Smith Shi also says that if you’re early in your career, negotiate when you’re getting the job offer so that you get the most you can. In the book, they quote Bozoma St. John who says, “Give the number first. Make it high as hell because then you can’t be lowballed.”

Also, pro tip: At many companies, your future raises will be based on a percentage of your salary, making it all the more important that you negotiate for as much as you possibly can. (Because in a year’s time, what would you rather be offered: 3% of $50,000, or 3% of $60,000? It’s a no-brainer.) 

In Mailbag, we hear from a mom who’s preparing to reenter the workforce and is looking for the best tips to use AI to spruce up her resume. We also hear from a listener who is getting their taxes done and is wondering if they should be increasing their retirement savings to avoid a higher tax bill. In our money tip of the week, it’s that time of the year again…tax time! So, what is the new DirectFile program from the IRS, and who is eligible to use it? We break it down. 


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All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416

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