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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to quit your current profession and do something completely different?  Have you ever wanted to make a career change, but you worry that you might fail?

Making a big career change can be daunting, and it is most certainly risky, but if you know how to do it properly, you can truly excel and find fulfilment on your new path:

When you decide you are ready for change and want to forge ahead with a big career pivot, you’ll have spent time doing your research, exploring new opportunities and uncovering your options. If it all goes well, at some stage you’ll get the offer you’ve been looking for: a new role in a new industry that appeals to you. But, if you are anything like me, you will still experience doubt and indecision.

 Thoughts will run through your mind:

‘What if I fail? What if it isn’t the best move for me?’

This is exactly what I experienced when I was living and working in London as a doctor in a private medical practice and was made a fantastic offer by one of the Big 4 firms to work in Deals and join their Corporate Finance Healthcare team. On paper it was an amazing opportunity. Yet, I hesitated.

Despite it looking like an exciting offer, the self-doubt crept in. Leaving my well paid job in medicine was going to be a big decision. To leave financial stability, working with people I knew, doing something I knew how to succeed at, in an environment I was familiar with, felt like a big risk. Everything and everyone I knew so well was going to change. I knew I had to let go of the idea of being a doctor and everything that went with it in my comfortable life. I knew I was a capable and resourceful person, but heading into the unknown was on one hand exciting, and on the other pretty darn terrifying.

What was it that allowed me to push aside myself doubt and take the plunge?

After taking a few deep breaths I evaluated the previous few months. I knew that I had intentionally asked the right questions during the interview stage of the process. I had started the process knowing what mattered to me.

I felt that the new role was going to bring with it the things that were important to me:

  • Firstly, it was clear the new role was to bring with it opportunities for growth and development, not only on a technical level, but also on a personal development level.

  • The second thing I was convinced of was that the role was going to make more use of my natural skills and innate gifts and abilities, with a good balance of time working as a team to time focussed on completing tasks alone.

  • The third thing that I had established was that the people I had met in the interview process and the firm’s values, were aligned to my own. 

But the cherry on the top, the point that gave me the confidence to go ahead and accept the offer was good connection I had made with my future bosses. During the interview process, I realized that they were taking a risk on hiring me, that they had seen something in me, and I therefore decided that I would take a risk on joining their team. The rest was history.

If you are hesitating before taking the plunge to make a career pivot, ask if your new role will:

  • Allow for the growth and development that you're looking for, both technical and personal development.

  • Allow you to be at your best and make the most of your unique skills, gifts and experience, in an environment where you will thrive.

  • Have values aligned with your own.

  • If you can tick at least these 3 areas, then at some stage you need to take a leap of faith.

  • Once you have accepted the offer, that is when the fun begins, as forefront of mind is to make a success of your new professional path.

Be prepared: what is it like to make a big career pivot?

What is it actually like to arrive in a new role, in a new organization and a new industry, and to try to make a success of it?

In my experience and in the experience of colleagues and clients I have helped, be warned, this sort of change is hard!

You may feel over your head and at times daunted and overwhelmed. If this is you, you are not alone: studies show  that  40% to 50%  of external hires, especially in senior positions, into new organizations, struggle. In fact, a high percentage of these external hires fail. Sadly, I have witnessed this on a number of occasions. Don’t take this sort of change lightly. You need to be prepared and you need a clear strategy for success.

When you arrive into a new in an organization, you are vulnerable:

  • You are unlikely to be familiar with environment.

  • You aren’t familiar with the organization's structure.

  • The organizational culture and how they get things done will be foreign to you.

  • You won’t have a well-established thriving network within the organization.

When I joined from a clinical medical practice into the environment of a professional services firm, it struck me how I was completely unfamiliar with the organizational structure and how the organization worked. Everything the firm did was completely foreign to me, and it took me quite some time to begin to understand how to ‘get things done’.

It took me time to figure out how it all fitted together, and to top it all off, I knew only a few people.

One of the main challenges you will face when coming into an entirely new role, is the lack of personal credibility that you have – particularly as compared to previously.

You will be a relatively unknown entity. Like me, you may go from being the ‘go-to person’ for advice, help and support, to being the person doing all the asking! For me this was a big change and threw up all sorts of insecurities that I had to work through as I gained confidence.

From the outset, you will notice that you are not as impactful, efficient and effective in your new role. While you scramble to get up to speed, if you have previously been a high achiever, this can take some getting used to.

You need a clear strategy so that you can quickly start getting traction and begin to add value.

What you need to do is to begin to make an impact and get to your break-even point as soon as you can. Your break-even point is when what you are contributing and the value that you add, equals what you consume from the organization. You need to get to  this break-even point and beyond as soon as you can if you want to make a success of your new role.

Think about it as your first 90 days in your role:

A president has 100 days to show the country what they will deliver, what value they will add. You have 90.There are five main  areas that I focus on with my clients, to help them succeed in their new roles.

 These 5 areas of focus will help you excel in your new chosen field:

  • Make a mental break between your new role and the role that you had previously.  You need to let go of the past and allow yourself to move on. What made you successful in the past is not necessarily what will make you successful in your new role. In fact, quite often what has made someone successful previously could be their downfall in their future role. For example, if you had previously relied on very specific and minute attention to detail in order to be successful, it may be a hindrance to you in your new role if your new role calls for having a high level strategic view.

If you are not careful, your strengths from your previous role could in fact be your downfall in your future or current role. Quite simply, you cannot keep doing what you did previously and expect the same levels of success. So don’t forget to let go make that mental break and move forwards.

  • Focus on learning, unlearning, and relearning. You need to climb the learning curve really fast. As soon as you can, ideally before you start your new role, you need to learn as much as you can about your new industry, about the clients and customers that you'll be serving, and about the technologies associated with your new role. You need to understand the market, the organizational structure, culture, and politics.

One of the things I suggest you do is look around at the people that you see who are making a success. Take note of what they are doing. Consider what you need to learn, relearn and unlearn. You need to do this fast if you want to thrive and survive.

Ask lots of questions. Put your hand up and ask even if you feel like your question might be silly. You'll be surprised how many people do not know the answer to the question that you're asking, and how delighted they’ll be that you put your hand up and asked.

  • Make an impact early on. You need to make wins and add value early on - in the first few weeks! From the get go, identify opportunities where you can add value and make wins. Look for ways to create value and improve business results.

Remember, it is unlikely you will excel in all areas of your role as soon as you arrive, so prioritize. Identify the opportunities where you'll be able to make quick wins that add value and improve the business's results.

  • Start to build your network and make connections. Begin this from day one: internally with those in your organization as well as externally with your clients, prospective customers and others in your industry.  

Another important part of making connections is getting time with your boss: meet with them early on and get regular spots on their calendar. The sooner you work out what your boss needs in order for them to succeed, the better it is for you, your team, your boss and the business.

When you are new, get out there and go and introduce yourself, meet new people. Find mentors in different parts of the business. Meet with peers, ask questions about what it takes to ‘get things done’ and succeed in the organization. Begin to notice culture and understand the politics

Most importantly, as you make connections: offer your support and help to others. These early relationships will stand you in good stead as you progress through the organization and beyond.

If you do not get out there and form connections and create strong networks, then no matter how talented, skilled or hardworking you are, you simply will not succeed.

In business as in life: connection is absolutely everything.

  • Remember, this is not about you. The more you help others through their own transition and contribute to their development, the better it'll be for everybody, including the success of the business.

In summary, bring discipline and focus to a clear 90 day strategy:

  • Make a break between your old role and the new;

  • Learn quickly;

  • Make an impact early on;

  • Create authentic connections and networks; and

  • Help others.

These factors will contribute to you making a great success of your new role and big career pivot.

If you are about to make a big pivot and want to ensure that you are successful through the transition, then the Success Rx coaching program does just that. The Success RX coaching program will help you build a Powerful Professional Path. Click on any of the “free strategy call” buttons on the website to book your 60 minute free coaching call with me.


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