Strategies for Success
Useful tips for boosting your career
Whether you’re stuck in a career rut, contemplating your next job move or wanting to branch out on your own, there are many ways to give yourself a professional boost. We’ve collected ten tips and case studies to inspire you in your career development.
1. MAKING THE LEAP
Have you had enough of your job but don’t know what to do? Should you grin and bear it or make the leap into the unknown? It might be terrifying to reinvent yourself, but it’s certainly not impossible — particularly if you have a helping hand. For example, Richard Alderson started out as an IT consultant before realizing that he was in the wrong job. He now runs Careershifters, a firm that offers workshops, courses and coaching to help people find work they love. One of his clients was Lizzie Fouracre.
Case study: Lizzie Fouracre, founder of The Humble Retreat
After university, Lizzie Fouracre’s brother asked her to help him run a technology startup. The company was extremely successful, growing into a team of 60 within the seven years that she worked there. But deep down, Fouracre knew she wasn’t living her dream — she was helping her brother.
“I reached a point when I felt I just couldn’t do this anymore,” she says.
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Fouracre left the company and went walking around the UK for two months, with just a tent, a rucksack and questions about her next move. “I needed some peace away from the noise so I could listen to myself. Then I realized what I was doing was very restorative and wanted to make this available to others — just walking, being mindful of yourself, getting back to basics and finding happiness in the humble things in life.”
As a result, Fouracre opened The Humble Retreat, a converted barn in the Shropshire Hills, offering yoga, walking, homemade food and a place to get back to basics. She has been running the retreat for a year now. “I’ve never had so much conviction about anything in my life apart from this. I’m positive that this is a result of me listening to my intuition, which I’d ignored for so long.”
Her message to others: “Believe in yourself!” https://www.careershifters.org www.thehumbleretreat.com
2. THE MOTHER OF ALL JOBS
Many of us dream of having it all: combining a fulfilling career with having a family. But those dreams can crumble when confronted with reality. Expectant parents worry that taking an extended break from the workplace might damage their future career chances — not to mention the temporary loss of income.
But those preparing for parental leave can breathe a sigh of relief. Becoming a parent can actually help you hone a broad range of skills that can translate into success upon your return to the office.
Dealing with toddlers equips parents with top negotiation and diplomacy tactics. Multitasking at home also makes you brilliant at time management. But potential parents need to plan how to keep in touch with their employer. Having a performance review before you leave also provides a useful record of your competencies and responsibilities for when you return.
Case study: Jessica Chivers, CEO, Talentkeepers
Before having two children, Jessica Chivers worked in learning and development for Barclays bank in the City of London. After becoming a mother, she moved into a freelance coaching role before writing a book, Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work (Hay House). “I saw this complete incompatibility between being a parent and being a professional. I also saw a complete waste of talent,” says Chivers.
The process of writing the book combined with her career experience and coaching background inspired her to set up Talentkeepers in 2012. Now, Chivers works with employers to help their employees through the journey out of and back into the business after maternity leave and other extended periods away from work.
“I REALIZED THAT I NEEDED SOME PEACE AWAY FROM THE NOISE”
Chivers really does appear to have it all. “Working for myself has enabled me to be in control of my own diary and combine having a family with doing really interesting work.” www.talentkeepers.co.uk www.bamf.de/en/willkommen/kinderfamilie/elterngeld/ elterngeld-node.html
3. TAKING A BREAK
Are you feeling burned out? Do you want to pursue some personal goals? Or do you simply need some time off? A sabbatical might be the answer.
The good news is that travelling round the world or going on a wild adventure can help you grow as an individual and give you renewed enthusiasm for work. But before taking a break, check your company’s attitude towards and policy on sabbaticals and plan your budget. And don’t forget to stay in touch with your employer while you’re away.
Case study: Lisa Hoashi, life coach
In 2013, Lisa Hoashi took a brave step into the unknown and quit her job in humanitarian aid communications. It wasn’t easy: Hoashi had worked hard at her career and was proud of the work she was doing.
At the same time, she sensed she was on the wrong path. “My job was increasingly corporate, involved more travel, more hours and considerable stress. There was so much more I wanted in my life: I wanted a partner, a family, a life closer to nature, and more time for creative projects and to be with family and friends.” So, Hoashi planned to spend the summer exploring around her home in Portland, Oregon, before travelling in Mexico and South America.
As often happens, Hoashi’s plans changed significantly once she was on the road. Instead of heading to Mexico, she flew out to see a friend in the south of France. Then she headed on to Spain, where she met and fell in love with a Catalan farmer.
After a four-month tour of South America, the pair returned to live near Barcelona. They are now married, with a daughter, and a son on the way.
“THERE WAS SO MUCH MORE THAT I WANTED IN MY LIFE”
“I WANTED TO INVEST IN MYSELF AND MY PERSPECTIVE”
For Hoashi, the sabbatical proved transformational. “It gave me the time and space to connect with what I valued most in life, to restore my health and vitality after so many years of burnout, and to recognize new possibilities for my life that better aligned with who I really wanted to be.”
Working with a life coach years earlier had helped Hoashi realize how important a sabbatical was for her. She decided she wanted to help others to follow through on their dreams and trained to become a certified life coach. “There is so much more out there for you,” says Hoashi.
4. MASTERS OF THEIR TRADE
You’re never too old to learn. And studying later in life can help you change career direction, learn new skills and develop an entirely new network. Now that you’re all grown up, it’s time for a grown-up course, such as the Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy at London Business School (LBS), with a group of senior managers aged between 35 and 55.
Case study: Jean-philippe Verdier, founding partner, Verdier & Co.
Leaving the world of big banking isn’t an easy step, particularly after working as an investment banker with well-known firms such as BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank or Greenhill. But taking the master’s course gave Jean-philippe Verdier the confidence and skills to make the leap and set up his own business, the corporate finance boutique Verdier & Co., in 2016. The firm has since grown to have four members of staff and a portfolio of clients, including big names.
Verdier was initially drawn to the course because he wished to broaden his horizons. “I wanted to invest in myself for the following decades, develop soft skills such as team leadership, and equip myself with a broader perspective, for instance
understanding key strategic issues and how things ‘work’ in today’s corporate world.” He also felt he needed to take a step back after 20 years’ working in banking and finance and invest in himself for the next 20 years and more.
Verdier’s courses included those related to entrepreneurship, managing people and managing a growing business. The new knowledge shaped him for his next position and provided him with the self-confidence to start his own firm. Networking with experienced executives also helped. “I recruited some of my team via the LBS network and also won my second — and very big — client via the network there.”
Verdier cautions anyone considering a master’s not to expect to get the dream job immediately after the programme. Also, you need to be honest with yourself. “You can only get out of the course what you put into it,” he says. And remember: a master’s is not without a cost — it’s a big commitment both financially and emotionally. https://www.london.edu/programmes/masters-courses/sloanmasters-in-leadership-and-strategy www.verdierandco.com
5. QUEEN OF THE KINGDOM
As the capital of the conservative Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh might be considered a daunting place for an expat woman seeking work. How do you navigate a world with restrictions regarding women if you’re used to the comparative freedom of the West? As long as you adhere to obvious traditional expectations, such as covering yourself up in public, you can still enjoy a rewarding career.
Just remember: respect cultural differences — always.
Case study: Leigh-jane Obermayer, founder of First Contact
Thanks to her naturally inquisitive nature, Leighjane Obermayer quickly grew knowledgeable about Riyadh after moving there with her family. Her newfound knowledge let her help other new families when they arrived. So she thought, “Why not do this as a business?” and opened a company
that relocates Western families to Riyadh and provides onboarding services, integrating and familiarizing them with Riyadh.
She called her business “First Contact”, after the Star Trek film. “It’s all a bit alien-like when you first arrive here,” she jokes. Obermayer was pleasantly surprised to find that working in Saudi Arabia as a Western woman has its advantages. “Locals are almost intimidated by an expat female, as you come across as being so confident. The rules don’t really apply to you, so you can’t really break them.”
6. MOVING DOWN
Sometimes, you have to decide what you really want out of life: more money and less time? Or the opposite?
Downsizing your career can mean an upturn in quality of life. Exiting the rat race and choosing a simpler lifestyle can bring greater personal happiness. Of course, it can also mean less financial security.
In any case, it needn’t mean the end of your career. You can bring fresh enthusiasm to a less stressful job, shine in your new position and achieve a better work-life balance at the same time.
Case study: Amanda Ing, manager of holiday cottages
Amanda Ing’s progress along a predefined career path seemed guaranteed after she joined British retailer Marks & Spencer as a management trainee in 1989. Ing climbed the ladder, moving from store manager to project manager in the food group before becoming a sales manager for a bakery.
But her increasing frustration at the ever-changing priorities and politics of a large company, and the feeling that she wasn’t fully appreciated, meant that she happily took a redundancy package when it was offered.
Nowadays, Ing and her husband, Kevin, manage a portfolio of holiday cottages in the North Yorkshire village of Staithes and run various property development projects. Her work makes use of the skills learned at M&S, whether marketing the cottages, developing the website or ensuring that the guest experience is the best at all times.
“THE RULES DON’T REALLY APPLY SO YOU CAN’T BREAK THEM”
Ing loves the variety of her work, saying that “no two days are ever the same”. What’s more, the change has made her more balanced. “Working for myself means that the only boss I have to answer to is me!” https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/downshift- career1116 https://stayinstaithes.co.uk
7. STUDYING ABROAD
Do you want to travel and study? Why not get the best of both worlds and study abroad? In today’s increasingly globalized world, studying abroad can expand personal horizons and open up a world of professional opportunities, says Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, author and co-author of several career books, including Get Ahead by Going Abroad (William Morrow).
Immersing yourself in a foreign culture and experiencing different ways of thinking leads to new perspectives about people, places and, often, yourself.
Executives value the intellectual curiosity associated with those who have studied in a foreign country, Berdan says. “Most say that if they received two résumés that were exactly the same except one had studied abroad, they would choose the latter, citing attributes such as cross-cultural awareness, critical thinking, adaptability, multiple language skills and global mobility.”
Of course, studying abroad may not be practical for everyone. It might cost too much or not fit in with commitments at home. In that case, an international assignment, distance learning or learning another language can help you become a global player.
“THE ONLY BOSS THAT I HAVE TO ANSWER TO IS ME”
Case study: Deni Galijas, student at EU Business School, Barcelona
Attracted by its international environment and its top lecturers and location, Deni Galijas enrolled at the EU Business School in Barcelona in 2017. He’s currently writing his dissertation for an MBA in communication and PR, as well as an MSC in international management.
Galijas, who is German, took the course to bring his general business knowledge to a higher level and set a good foundation for future work opportunities. The multicultural environment of the course was a clear highlight for Galijas: “To learn and interact with people from different cultures helps a person develop and grow, while at the same time broadening their perspectives on business and life.”
Anybody thinking about studying abroad should “just do it”, he says. “If you stay open-minded, the benefits of studying abroad will compensate for the investment.” https://www.euruni.edu https://stacieberdan.com/stacie-berdan
8. COACHING FOR SUCCESS
You don’t know what to do next in your career? If you’re stuck for ideas, then why not hire a career coach? Objective professional advice can help you discover your career goals and take difficult career decisions. But make sure you find the right coach for you — the chemistry has to be right.
Case study: Joe Foote received coaching after leaving the music business
Working as an events promoter in the music industry might sound glamorous, but after several years’ hard work, its competitive nature and long hours left Joe Foote wanting a career change.
Unsure of what to do next, Foote got in touch with Steve Flinders, a life and career coach and Business Spotlight author. “I was stuck,” Foote says. “I had no idea what I wanted to do.” Over a couple of months, the pair discussed questions such as what Foote wanted from his career and what interested him.
“I WAS STUCK. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WANTED TO DO IN MY CAREER”