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25+ years dedicated to one company. Is it worth it?

Have you weighed up the risks/rewards of dedicating decades of service to one company?


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Cassandra (Leong) Lister

2 years ago | 2 min read

An executive within my network was employed by his previous employer for about 25 years. From the time he joined them after achieving his undergraduate degree, he was promoted and/or moved to lateral roles located in various cities and countries across Asia Pacific and the US. He had high potential and was also a high performer. This was recognised by senior management and all the internal role moves were part of the grooming process for (eventually) the Group CEO role.

About 2–3 years before his anticipated next move to Group CEO level, the Chair of the Board brought in an executive from outside the company. Supposedly in an effort to ‘shake things up a bit’. All of a sudden, this executive now had a new boss. Someone he didn’t know.

Within the next year, this executive was offered a new, internal role without any consultation. The role had very little substance, therefore, low probability of success. The bulb inside his head lit up. He was being sidelined! And the communication from his new boss was clear. If you don’t take this role, you no longer have a place in this company.

Being the loyal employee that he was, he accepted the new role. Which involved moving to yet another country and this time, his wife and kids didn’t relocate with him. As she had her own successful career (& had moved 4x before) and the kids were in critical school years.

Over the course of the next 12–18 months, it started to become clear that this new boss was now being groomed to become the next Group CEO. The disappointment and anger set in.

This executive eventually resigned as he no longer trusted the establishment. Or more precisely, the people making the decisions at this establishment. He resented how he had been treated. After 25 years of dedicated service! His career goal/dream of finally attaining the corner office and the much-vaunted corporate title eventually dissipated like a puff of smoke.

“Company loyalty defined narrowly concerns employees sticking with the organization instead of looking for work elsewhere. Company loyalty defined broadly emerges from the idea that the organization possesses nobility that’s worth serving, even if employees don’t benefit personally from the contribution.”

This story is not an uncommon occurrence. Large companies are hierarchical.

Some will say ‘But he did benefit personally from staying with this one company for 25 years. He was a senior executive, ergo, paid a handsome salary with expat perks. He and his family had the opportunity to live in multiple cities/countries.’ And we can assume that this is absolutely true.

My questions are ‘Was 25 years of company loyalty worth it? Are you willing challenge your status quo or do you think you’ve become addicted to your monthly salary? Is that promotion worth more that you are willing to trade in your free time/health/family time?

Companies show us time and time again that employees are replaceable.

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Cassandra (Leong) Lister

Mother of twins. Commonwealth citizen. Former Global Banker. Aspiring book author. All stories and opinions published are my own.


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