Research Outline

Manager To VP- Best Practices


To identify the common challenges and pain points for senior executives for the purposes of developing a go-to-market strategy.

Early Findings

Continued research found some general pain points for and common mistakes of executives and job seekers in general that could apply to directors seeking a VP position.


  • A major pain point for job seekers in general that may apply to director-level executives is that they self-eliminate based on what the desired job description entails.
  • Due to the fact that there is often many candidates of senior executive positions, always being the "runner-up" can be a pain point for applicants. They are told they were the second choice or just "beat out slightly by another applicant."
  • According to EffectiveTrainingSolutions, it seems "too easy to get stuck at Director level."
  • Flaws that can be covered at the director level get exposed at the VP level, so every communication is magnified and will impact more people.
  • Directors often do not have "executive presence," meaning they do not project the leadership required for a VP position.
  • Directors are often "frazzled," but VPs must "communicate with poise, calm, be in the moment, not have his/her attention ping-ponging all over the place."
  • Because they often have so much going on, directors are frequently trying to multitask, but VPs have the ability to focus on the person in front of them and make them feel like they're "the only person in the world." Essentially, successful VPs make people want their leadership.
  • VPs often have to engage with the public more than directors, so a pain point for directors may be that they are not used to dealing with the public (media, social networks, etc.).


  • Jason, a general manager at a fortune 100 company, wanted to be a VP, but another GM was promoted instead. What that GM did that Jason did not do was ask his superiors what it would take to be promoted. As such, a pain point for becoming a VP is knowing what it takes to become one.
  • Often, directors are not doing enough self-promotion, which CEOs and other C-suite executives want to see. Blake Irving, CEO of GoDaddy, said, "While I believe executives (and in fact any employee) should focus on doing a great job at the role they’re in, they also have to let leaders in the company know that they’re hungry to take on more, and when deemed capable, willing to step up. I’ve never believed in blatant self-promotion, but I do believe that you have to let your boss know you’re ready for something bigger."
  • Directors need to communicate their career plans to their supervisors and check in with them at least once a year to discuss their "suitability for the level just above [theirs] or for [their] desired next career step."
  • Senior executives looking to be promoted should also let their superiors know if they are willing to relocate so they can remove barriers that could be preventing promotion.