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Disrupt Your Career

How to Navigate Uncharted Career Transitions and Thrive

By Antoine Tirard and Claire Lyell

Paperback, 310 pages

Publisher: Lulu Publishing Services


Professionals face many critical crossroads in their careers, sometimes unpredictable, sometimes more expected, but for which they were often not truly prepared.

This book discusses many such career transitions – from leaving a corporation to joining a non-profit, evolving from athlete to executive, or returning to a former employer.

Using the stories of 50 leaders interviewed all over the world, the authors describe what provokes the change, the challenges it creates, how the individual is surviving the transition, and what effective leaders do to navigate and grow from it.

The book offers a simple, easy-to-use framework to help make the most of any uncharted transition. To thrive, you have to follow a four-stage process of Exploring, Experimenting, Engaging and Expanding. Drawing on examples of a wide range of companies, Disrupt Your Career also provides recommendations to help organizations better acquire, develop and retain talent.

With both compelling stories and rigorous research, Disrupt Your Career serves as a call to exploit novel ways to approach careers and presents practical advice to help both individuals and organizations better prepare, manage, and make the most of career changes – ultimately leading to more fulfilling careers.


Antoine Tirard is a talent management advisor and the founder of NexTalent. He is the former head of talent management of Novartis and LVMH.

Claire Harbour-Lyell is a coach and global talent expert, the founder of Culture Pearl and a speaker, consultant and writer about all things to do with optimizing talent across borders.

What People Are Saying

Stories from Career Changers

Marta, Peru, Spain

Marketing Director, SSP International   ->  CEO Wasi Organics

Marta, a native Peruvian who is now the Founder and CEO of Wasi Organics, left her home country for study in Spain after high school. Later, she took increasingly senior marketing roles at major companies across Europe and the USA. Along the way, she completed an MBA at INSEAD, which further broadened her already very global outlook. The trigger for Marta’s return to Peru was an invitation from a headhunter in London to take a CEO position. Intrigued that she was now perceived as a potential CEO, she started to think hard about what she really wanted to do. Swiftly, she concluded that she wanted her own business and to give back in some way to Peru. This was Marta’s twentieth year in Europe and at that point, eight years ago, she returned home.

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Yang, China

Head of China Desk EMEA & Americas, Thomson Reuters   ->  Partner, Managing Director, Yaozhi

Yang has only been back in his native China since the spring of this year. He is still in the “honeymoon” period of his return, wide-eyed at the noisy market in his street, where he can “buy breakfast of any kind whenever he wants”, and disoriented in the perpetually changing mega-city that is Shanghai. Nothing indicated that Yang would have a taste for travel and exploration. His parents were both in the Chinese military and forbidden to travel abroad; thus it was surprising that he chose to study English at university – less so when one discovers that he simply chose the subject he found most difficult, as a special challenge to himself.

Thomas, Germany

Consultant, McKinsey & Company   ->  CEO, Polychrome Europe

Thomas was a junior consultant at McKinsey, aged 30, having already operated as sales director, finance director and even member of the executive committee, in a French steel company for Northern Europe. This was a time when McKinsey was moving towards more work in implementation of strategy, and so Thomas was of great interest to them, having a strategic brain and a top MBA, as well as deep experience of a significant industry. As clients got to know of his existence, they started demanding to work with him, as he was the one who had real experience, as opposed to most of the other career consultants. He found it intellectually stimulating but he realized that it is easy to tell such leaders what to do, but far harder to make it happen. He was missing the implementation!

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Anna, United Kingdom

General management, Flight operations and HR in Swire Group

While Anna was growing up, her love of horses – and, as she admitted, perhaps her natural authority – led to her dreaming of becoming a mounted police woman, and the dream persisted in her early years. Coming from a military family and moving around the world prepared her for what she would eventually do. But the way in which she came to it was unusual, to say the least. In her year “off” before university, Anna’s father had been posted to Tokyo, and she woke up every morning to amazing urban landscapes, including the large sign of the Swire Group on a neighboring building, which housed the company’s local headquarters. Not only did she get the visual cue, but she happened to become acquainted with some of the “house staff” or management trainees of the firm.

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Christina, Germany

Partner, The Boston Consulting Group   ->  Executive VP, Family- Owned Industrial Company

Christina, a 22-year veteran of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) underwent a huge shift in career when she joined one of the largest family-owned companies in Europe. As a partner, with many high-powered clients, and some fascinating internal roles, Christina never expected to leave consulting, though she had occasionally considered the option. She enjoyed the intellectual stimulation, rarefied atmosphere and the interaction with significant leaders across industries and cultures. After a chance encounter with the chairman of this company, she was offered a C-level position and took the lead of the automobile unit of the company, about which she knew little.

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Gabriel, France

MSc Engineeering, ICAM   ->  Electronics Engineer, PSA Peugeot Citroën

Gabriel’s father pushed him to take Chinese lessons when he started engineering school. He obeyed, somewhat unenthusiastically, but nevertheless, this opened his eyes to other opportunities. When a friend of a friend mentioned an internship in a Peugeot Citroën joint venture in China, he sent his CV, realizing that his study of Chinese, while not a job requirement, just might convince the potential employer.  At this point, he had no specific agenda, but was attracted by doing “something different”. Gabriel’s transition to working life in Wuhan was bumpy. He found it deeply depressing not to be able to communicate in a language he thought he’d mastered. He found himself working out of a dark, unheated basement, with little support.

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