I work for a startup which just reached the 100 employees mark. Now that we are being successful, we started hiring more and more experienced managers from other companies, including the competition. When I joined 18 months ago I was looking forward learning more about business and management. However, now those career paths are being filled with people who have 10 or 20 more years of experience.

How can I keep some career growth when senior positions are being occupied? Or, is this the case where the startup has grown, I got my experience and I should get "promoted" by finding a new job elsewhere?


90% of startups fail. This one is not one of the 90%. You might learn something by sticking around even in a non-senior management position since there are so few successful startups around.

Your startup is about to enter a critical phase where it goes from startup to midsized business. This is the second most critical phase of a company's growth and you might want a front row seat for this show.

As long as you hang around people that you can learn from and they are willing to teach you, as long as you are being taken care of equity-wise and salary-wise, why should you care? If the transition to midsize is successful, the most critical part of the growth in size will take place at the level of midlevel management. If I were to work in a non-senior role for a startup that turns into the next PayPal, do you think I'd be crying my eyes out that I wasn't in a senior management role? :)

In my case, I joined the evening MBA program at NYU, got my management to write a yearly letter to the IRS that I needed this education to maintain the minimum requirements to keep my job and got reimbursed 50% of my tuition during the entire time I was going from my MBA (that was the late 1980s) and essentially functioned as midlevel manager of my firm since I was responsible for all IT operations at the firm aside from being a senior environmental engineer at the firm. They did offer me a path to partnership but I didn't take it - I couldn't stomach the idea of wearing a suit. They've changed policy since but I have been long gone, too. The firm is listed in the ENR (Engineering News Record) 400, has a multistate presence and is the largest envionmental planning firm of the New York Metro area. And I was there when it went from a seven-person startup to midlevel size of 100. After surviving several recessions - and several not so smart top management decisions - it should be around 400-500 by now.


There's nothing special about this startup or probably any other companies in your area. You'll get promoted when you're ready. Unless you have the same amount of experience, you're going to have to keep improving. One way to do that is try to learn from these experienced people. Focus on doing your job.

There may be more growth or turnover within your company and you'll be ready when the time comes. Always monitor available jobs and apply for better positions.

I don't think there is anything in particular your company is doing to hinder your ability to get promoted. If they're able and willing to hire people with extensive experience for these types of positions, you just have to keep improving until you're competitive. You are in a job market with a lot of experienced candidates. Learn from them while you can.

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    Actually, I would say, "One way to do that is try to learn from these experienced people. Focus on doing your job while learning how they do theirs." – James Olson Jan 7 '17 at 14:07

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