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Why I Quit My High Paying Job to Work for a Startup

By Poyen Ramos on October 12, 2016

There are days (a lot of days, actually) when we question ourselves and why we're still working at this crappy job that just sucks up all our free time, energy, and well, life in general. Sure, there's a fat paycheck every month, great benefits and bonuses, but is it really worth the never ending stress, work frustrations, and general unhappiness?

We interviewed Isobel Pareja, Kalibrr's Associate Consultant for Recruitment Solutions, to let us in on why she decided to quit her high-paying job for a one that pays a little less but challenges her everyday and pushes her to her full potential.


What company did you work for?

I used to work in an international non-profit organization.

How long were you with them?

Two years and 3 months.

What was your position? Can you explain what your job entailed.

I had 3 positions throughout the period:

Marketing Communications Officer. My first job ever, it was basically marketing and events. I would manage the company website, especially keep the online directory updated for our members, manage our different social media pages and send out email blasts. I also helped organize events including making invitations, looking for sponsors and logistics.

Project & Research Officer. This was a new role in the organization where we had to focus more on helping UK companies do business in the Philippines. I was tasked with managing our online library with references and updates about Philippine business regulations, I would research and write about particular sectors especially when a client is looking for more information in it, and organize "Trade Missions" where we would find potential clients or partners for the UK businesses to meet when they visit the PH.

Marketing Manager. When our Marketing Manager resigned, instead of hiring someone new, they decided to just promote me since I already know the ins and outs of the organization. It was pretty much similar to my first role, only now I was reporting directly to the Chairman, and provide reports to the Events Committee, Membership Committee and Board of Trustees.

What were the ups and downs of working with the company? 

It was a very small organization which means everyone had to be hands on and had to be a bit of a generalist in roles. It was good because for a first job especially, since I had to be adaptable to take on different roles, and do a lot of varied tasks. It helped me test out which skills I'm actually good at, which skills I need to improve on, in what situations would I thrive in etc. Being in a small and hands on team, I got to interact directly with the members, public officials and high profile guests. It's not everyday that you can say you just spoke with the CEO of HSBC or shook the hand of the British Ambassador. It was a great place to build your network.

why I quit my high paying job to work at a startupThe organization was pretty unstable, and attrition was pretty high. Throughout my stay, I had 4 different bosses. That meant 4 different directions for the organization and 4 different management styles in 2.3 years. There were a lot of stakeholders as well as the Board of Trustees was very involved in decision making for the company, so it gets confusing on who I should answer to, is it the General Manager, the Chairman of the Board or the Committee Head?

Because of the changes in management, it came to a point where I was the employee with the longest experience working in the company, so all the other employees would look to me to ask what needs to be done, and how things work. It was pretty frustrating, since I was only 22 then, and I was quite self-aware that I had a lot more things to learn, yet my colleagues, who had more authority than me, were looking to me on what to do.

Why did you decide to quit? 

When the Marketing Manager left, I was asked if I was interested to become the Events Manager, to which I said no, because the role is limited to just doing events, and the tasks were routine and unchallenging. I told my boss that I wanted to do other things, develop my skills, expand my resume, to which he said "I don't want you to expand your resume, I want you to do events."

When the company doesn't want you to grow and help develop your skills, you know it's time to leave.

Around February, I started looking at other companies, and by March I got an offer from a good, established company, but when my boss found out about it, he gave a counteroffer, promoting me to Marketing Manager with a much bigger salary. I decided to stay, thinking it would be worth it. A month into the promotion, I realized it wasn't and started looking for jobs again. Choosing money over growth and happiness is never wise.


This was also the time I met Roxi Lim, Kalibrr's marketing manager, who told me all about Kalibrr, so I decided to check it out. The assessments were really fun to answer, and it was great how they gave me suggestions on which jobs they think I should check out. One of the suggestions there was for a Business Development Associate role, which (though renamed) is where I am now.

I got an offer from Kalibrr just three months after I was given the raise and promotion, and my boss was obviously disappointed that I was choosing to leave. I told him that I couldn't compromise my growth and development anymore, and it was just really time to move on. He asked about the salary I was offered, and I ensured him that they're not giving me a better salary, but a better opportunity.

When Roxi told me about Kalibrr, I was pretty much hooked. She told me why Paul started the company, and what the company culture was like—dynamic, young, involved—I was sold. When an employee just gleams when she talks about the company she works for, that's saying something.

How did it feel after quitting?

I felt anxious since I was leaving my first job ever. Even if I wasn't happy all the time, it was familiar and I knew what to do and how to get by. After that though, I felt relief because I've been thinking about resigning for a while, and also fulfillment because not only did I choose to work for a company I know would really help me develop new skills, I chose to work for a startup which is way out of my comfort zone of wanting stability and order.

How are you now with your current job? 

I am now with Kalibrr and happier than ever. Out of all my friends, I'm the only one working at a startup, and I'm the only one genuinely enthusiastic when talking about work. One of the things I told Roxi on why I wanted to quit was because I wasn't challenged at my old job, she recently asked if I was being challenged in my new role at Kalibrr, and all I can say I'm being challenged here everyday.

why I quit my high paying job to work at a startupI never even thought of entering a sales role before Kalibrr, but here I am, learning that I have the fundamentals to make a really good salesperson. It's great because I'm also given tasks and projects that I need to lead which really helps me hone my leadership skills which I always thought that I need to improve on.

Any career advice for the readers?

Go with your gut. If you feel that it's time to leave, leave. We will all have our excuses to prefer to stay, whether because it's safer, or familiar, or you're scared of not getting your dream job (congrats if you know what that is btw), but are those excuses really worth the possibility of becoming a better version of yourself?

Don't be blinded by money. As the saying goes "money can't buy you happiness." A bigger paycheck doesn't equate to a better job, especially if that's the only reason you're sticking to it. Choose a job and company where you can develop strong relationships with your peers and mentors, who can help you go after your personal and career goals.

why I quit my high paying job to work at a startupFrom experience, the best advice I can give, is to choose a job where you're able to do meaningful work. A job where you believe you are doing something to help other people. You'll find it easier to wake up in the morning when you know that going to the office means helping someone reach their dreams.

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