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My Career Change Story

I quit my corporate job in 2017. I enjoyed the responsibility, the business trips I’ve made almost weekly all across Europe and Africa, the fine dining restaurants, the frequent flyer statuses​​, the elegant outfits, the morning coffee in London, and the after-work gin tonics in Madrid. I took pride in being equally familiar with the work culture in SA, India, and Frankfurt. I knew the faces on the early morning Monday flights.

I also felt exhausted and experienced frustration. On Fridays, often after a delayed flight, I got home, sat outside on the terrace on the floor, prepared myself a nice meal, and stared at the lilac tree in the garden for hours. I just needed to switch off, to be quiet, to not think, analyze, solve problems, or talk anymore. 

After-work beer in London City in 2013
After-work beer in London City in 2013

I spent many late evenings calculating FTEs, creating immaculate presentations for the shelf, drawing process maps, and updating project statuses in hundred-line Excel sheets that were then changed within an instant the next day when priorities shifted.

When I moved to the US, I decided to make a change and started my first business.  After months, I realized that it was not gonna sustain me financially yet, so I sought a role at a startup, starting from scratch. I wanted to wear my orange beanie in the office and lean on innovative ideas instead of rigid processes. I reinvented myself and made a second career in managing, and then leading startup operations.

Coaching came along the way, and this proved to be a profession I truly enjoy. I'm not sure if I could have enjoyed it ten years ago. I believe each career stage came at the right time when I was ready for that. Working as a coach fits my current personality, where my accumulated skills are appreciated, and I feel a natural interest in learning more, diving deeper, and serving better in this field. 

Changing careers is not a linear path and not a black-or-white story. 

This year was the first one when I started to appreciate myself and recognize my successes. In the past six years, I often felt unsuccessful, and embarrassed. When I was asked how my business or career was going, I stayed quiet, gave generic responses, or tried to find excuses. I saw my peers leading companies, selling their startups, becoming board members, and being rewarded in their fields. I saw ex-colleagues stepping higher on the career ladder, and growing the ventures I’ve left.

On the WebSummit in Lisbon this fall. This was my second big conference as a business owner.
On the WebSummit in Lisbon this fall. This was my second big conference as a business owner.

Three years ago I was a beginner again. I was just one of the million coaches on the market. Someone who’s left their corporate and start-up career and realized that their real purpose is helping others to fulfill their potential and become a coach. I studied countless hours, I built a new network, I learned to be an entrepreneur, and I proved myself again in a completely new industry. 

My sense of dissatisfaction came from the fact that my income was very far from what I’d earned before in my employed life. Despite the certifications, the work I’ve put into it, and all the sales and marketing training I’ve done and implemented, getting started in a new field takes time, energy, and effort. It’s an investment on many levels.

Theoretically, I knew that it was not a competition, and my worth was not defined by the money I earned, and comparing myself to others leads nowhere, but to feeling miserable. In reality, feeling unsuccessful still whispered in the back of my mind. 

A few days ago I reflected on 2023 and as I was listing my accomplishments and what has happened, something started to shift. This year, I’ve got coaching inquiries from a Big4 company, where I used to be a management consultant. It was a big moment for me because I realized that I no longer need to mention my previous work history to feel credible. I earned my reputation in my newly chosen profession, and I am receiving invitations to and working with clients with whom partnering is an honor. With whom I wanted to work together for a long time - also in my previous career life!

I helped make pivotal life changes for directors, leaders, and founders. I coached mid-career expats, and daring migrant women on their reinvention journey. I was a trusted partner in challenging and highly sensitive situations. I saw men in high positions crying, and super successful women feeling lost, and allowing themselves to be completely vulnerable and honest - with themselves and with me, as their coach. I witnessed the process of high-achieving men stating that they don’t believe in bringing emotions to work, and later in our work, share their insecurities, fears, and deepest desires.

I supported major shifts when these incredible people found their strength, courage, and direction again. They tapped into their wisdom and experienced how is it when they know what they want and go for it. They dared to quit a high-paying corporate job and chose to continue at a startup. Some of them revamped their business after almost closing them, and some of them decided to finally quit and start anew.

There is never one good choice. Confidence comes from recognizing that you have a choice, aligning it with your values, your goals, and your opportunities, and making it happen for real. 

The depth and reward I experience day by day in my work are incredibly different from what I had six years ago. Honestly, I can’t wait to move forward on this amazing path and also enjoy frequent flyer statuses and delicious business trips again - as a business owner and as a coach, pursuing a fulfilling and rewarding career of my very own choice. 


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