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Using a throwaway account for anonymity.

I started working for a software consulting firm in an entry level development position two years ago. This position is advertised as a 2-4 year stop along the career path within my company. It feeds into very regional offices.

Early in my career here, I noticed that much like other corporate environments, hard-working self driven individuals could get outside this timeline. I worked hard to see that the projects I touched were successful and my coworkers and bosses had much praise for me. I earned consultant of the year for my department in 2016.

I also took the time to get to know the hiring managers and various executives within my company. In December, I met with one of our regional managers and they informed me that based off the work I had done for a couple of their clients they would absolutely hire me. I also met with our VP of Operations and expressed my interest in moving out of my department. He told me "consider that done." I asked him what sort of time frame for a move I would be looking at and he told me something along the lines of "whatever you want, you tell me the date."

Then, my current department head asked me to take the lead position in a maintenance role for a client I have been working on for several months. I have already turned this position down multiple times. He offered me "a promotion and a raise" and told me that "this step is needed for you to make a move outside the department." I asked him what the minimum amount of time in this lead role he would feel comfortable with, and he informed me 6 months.

This is frustrating to me, because I feel I have already gotten the go ahead from everybody required as far as moving up. Any move to a region I made would be the equivalent of a 30-50% raise in my salary. The lead positioned offered is less than a 20% raise. Considering our VP of Operations was ready to move me out of my department and my department head is saying "you are not ready until you do this for me," I feel like he is attempting to hold me back for his own benefit (he knows he will get quality work from me at a discounted rate).

I've already spoken with my immediate supervisor about my concerns. There was a bit of "well we want to see your variety of tech skills increase" push back, but if this were the case what in the world is the point of keeping me working on an application that I have been involved with for over a year?

I am really torn about this, because I know any confrontation with my department head about this will reflect negatively, but I also am not sure it would be wise to continue to go around him.

What are some approaches I can take here? My goal for 2017 has always been to finish paying off my student loans (I won't be able to do that with the role being offered to me -- promotion wouldn't take affect until April and I'd still be paid ~20% less than the market value). I have established great relationships with my company and feel that it offers a very promising future, but I also know that my department head is taking advantage of me.

Note: I have 6 years of management experience -- I offer a tremendous amount of "soft skills." I'm in my early thirties, which puts me in a significantly different place than the majority of the coworkers in my department, most of whom are very green in a professional, corporate environment.

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Talk to the VP of Operations again. He believes in you, but your manager and supervisor want to keep you because you're good; go ahead and tell the top management that you're being stifled.

Worst case scenario, your department head starts to dislike you; that's fine, because you won't be working for him much longer. It doesn't sound like he takes care of his staff.

The comment of 'well we want to see your variety of tech skills increase' is a red herring; you're a manager, so you'll have people to do that for you, straight out of college.

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