Getting what she deserves, professionally

Lauren Hasson '04 starts platform to help women better negotiate salaries

Develop[Her]'s Lauren Hasson

One day, a male peer pulled Lauren Hasson ’04 aside and complained to her about how little he was making. “I was stunned to learn that not only was he making exactly what I was making at the time, but he had been hired at 50 percent more,” says Hasson. “That’s 5-0—50 percent more than me—when I was at his level.”

Hasson felt she’d accomplished enough to get more money coming her way. After graduating with a triple- major in electrical engineering, computer science, and economics, she went into investment banking. Seven years later, she wanted to get back in the tech game, which meant starting from scratch. Within two years, Hasson had worked her way into becoming a top-paid woman in tech, working remotely for a Silicon Valley payment company. She has won several hackathons (as in hacking marathons, in which computer programmers and others in software development collaborate on software projects), including the SXSW Hackathon, two years in a row. She also went overseas to be one of the hundred Americans who attended the U.K. G8 Innovation and Decide Now Act summits with the United Nations technology council.

Yet when it came to receiving her fair share, Hasson had a feeling she wasn’t getting enough. And that conversation with her colleague confirmed it. “I had suspected that I was underpaid,” she says. “But every time I would bring up getting paid more in performance reviews where they told me I was doing great work—keep doing what I’m doing—they would tell me that I just wasn’t there yet, and they never defined there.”

Hasson remembers the exact moment when, after talking to her male colleague, she let the firm know her value. “I was literally sitting across the executive in charge of all compensation, and he asked me, ‘Well, how much do you think you’re worth?’ And I knew exactly what I was worth. I knew what my market data was. I knew what I would get paid if I left and went to another company. I gave them that number, and they just laughed in my face. And they gave me a number that was less than 70 percent of what I knew market value to be.”

She walked away from that job and after investing “thousands and thousands of dollars” in books, magazine articles, and female salary-negotiation coaches, eventually tripled her salary. But she wanted to help other women in the workplace do the same.

That’s when she came up with Develop[Her], a career-development platform that inspires women to own their careers and negotiate the salaries they deserve. “I advise women to ground themselves in data, not only knowing exactly how much they’re worth but knowing their number,” she says.

She launched The Develop[HER] Show podcast, where she talked with other women in the tech industry. Eventually, she rolled out Become a NegotiatHER, an online training program. Since starting Develop[Her], she’s heard from women who have gotten $55,000 to $80,000 more in a single negotiation, she says.

Dallas/Fort Worth resident and Android mobile programmer Stacy Devino is one of those women. “In terms of where I was and what I wanted…I would maybe get about 10 to 15K, tops, at the time,” says Devino, who ended up getting a gig complete with a $65,000 increase. “But I knew I was worth so much more than that, and I just didn’t know how to go out and get it. And that’s really what this program gave me: the forethought to know where I was in my market, where there could be extra room, am I truly there, what makes me a premium over people, how do I convince people of that, how do I justify that.”

Companies from Google to Dell have called on Hasson to train women to advance. Men have sought her services, too. “If I don’t know something, I’m really good at figuring it out and learning it and mastering it,” she says. That’s something that Duke really challenged me to do when I was an undergrad. They didn’t hold my hand and teach me very specific things and how to regurgitate information. They taught me how to learn.”

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