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Starting at $46,000, this TikTok exec used her impressive negotiation skills to reach $400,000

After Sora Lee got laid off by Facebook in late 2022, she bagged offers from TikTok and one more company within days.
PUBLISHED JUN 30, 2024
Cover image cource: Sora Lee started her current role in January 2023. Getty Images | Photo by Mario Tama
Cover image cource: Sora Lee started her current role in January 2023. Getty Images | Photo by Mario Tama

Sora Lee, the global head of product marketing, creative solutions at TikTok, started her career following bad advice and then turned her life around. She gained experience and expertise over the years working at multiple leading companies like Netflix, Meta, and TikTok.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sora Lee (@soraunni)


 

Graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, Lee double majored in political science and economics. Initially, she didn’t know she would go into tech. Her first job in 2012 paid about $46,000 a year. However, Lee championed the art of negotiating and with each career transition, she took home higher pay and more benefits.

Being in Berkeley helped Lee land jobs at startups that were willing to hire international students. After her bachelor’s degree, she started with the video analytics startup called TubeMogul.

In 2012, she learned about Netflix which was about to take off. TubeMogul was vying for an ad tech partnership with Netflix, through which Lee learned about the to-be streaming giant's technology and culture.

 Packages of DVDs await shipment at the Netflix.com headquarters | Getty Images | Photo By Justin Sullivan
Getty Images | Photo By Justin Sullivan

While looking for opportunities, a recruiter from Netflix reached out to Lee. She started working at Netflix on its digital marketing programmatic buying team in 2014. Her salary went up to $110,000 and she stayed at the company till 2016.

She then moved to working with WhatsApp, owned by Meta, in January 2017. She stayed at Meta for six years serving in different roles for Facebook, taking her salary up to $200,000 a year.

With her negotiation skills, Lee knew that she was in a position to command a large salary and enjoy the benefits of working at highly regarded tech companies.

“I think the biggest perk is getting to work with some of the world’s smartest, most competent people and learning from them,” she told CNBC Make It.

However, by the end of 2022, Lee felt she had outgrown her role at Meta. While she was still looking for new opportunities, she got laid off by Facebook amid the wave of cuts the company made in late 2022.

Despite this, Lee fetched offers from TikTok and one more company within days. She went with TikTok and started her current role in January 2023.



 

In the first year at TikTok, Lee received a $50,000 sign-on bonus on top of her base salary of $320,000. She’ll receive $80,000 in restricted stock units, which brings her total compensation up to $400,000.  However, this wasn’t the only money she made in the year. She got extra money from her severance package, stock sales, rent from a room, and sale of her house along with money from her side hustles. In the end, Lee brought in about $840,000, she told CNBC.


 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Sora Lee (@soraunni)


 

Thus, her annual income grew nearly 10 times from what she earned fresh out of college. However, now, Lee feels that getting a big paycheck isn’t enough and she wants her work to feel meaningful and challenging. She says she wouldn’t take a better-paying job unless it satisfies her psychological needs.

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