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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

Dondi, Philippines

Director & CEO, Philpacific Insurance Brokers   ->  Chairman, Metro Cebu Development and Coordinating Board

Five years ago, Dondi – whose background in traditional business in the Philippines – decided “it was time to tackle the causes of poverty, as opposed to band-aid solutions”. He abhors corruption and poor governance, which contribute directly to the poverty of the Philippines. The decision to weigh in was not at all difficult, although he knew that he would be putting himself at odds with politicians and “pseudo-leaders”. It took about a year to settle into his new “calling” but almost five years to learn to “engage for change” rather than to “just battle away”.

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Marie, France

Strategy and program management at General Electric   ->  CEO, Co-Founder, Chief Innovation Officer of various startups

A true global cosmopolitan, Marie grew up on a farm in France. She completed her PhD in chemical biology in Singapore, before going to China to study its language and culture. She started her career with GE, as the first member of a new R&D team in China. Based in the U.S., her boss essentially told her: “You can do it – just go and figure it out”. In many ways, it was a lot like working in a start-up. When Marie eventually transferred to the Boston office, a colleague commented that she was “way too entrepreneurial to be working at GE”, which was true to a large extent. As she was contemplating leaving, serendipity stepped in: Her division was sold and in 2011, GE and Marie parted ways.

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Mutaz, Sudan

Sudanese refugee   ->  Entrepreneur at Forward Incubator

As a child, Mutaz dreamt about inventing extraordinary machines. His life has turned out, so far, to be full of reinvention. Raised in Saudi Arabia by his accountant father, a Sudanese no longer welcome in his own country, Mutaz held on to his dreams all through high school. However, the first obstacle he encountered was Saudi universities refused admission to foreign students. So he went to Sudan to study architectural engineering. In 2009, after graduation, Mutaz returned to Saudi Arabia. His first job was as an architect in a firm that was planning a new city, 700 km north of Riyadh. For almost a decade, he progressed in seniority, making astute moves from one firm to another, until he was running large projects for both local and multinational companies.

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Tom, UK

Captain, British Army   ->  Field Engineer Schlumberger

Tom received his education in institutions known for being the best, building his academic capacities before deciding to join the British Army. Having been in the military cadet corps at school, and undertaken obligations while at Cambridge University, Tom decided to follow his instincts on graduation, and not allow himself to be distracted by a corporate career for which he was not yet ready. He did not like the idea of “spending his twenties behind a desk”, and sought the military alternative, a more outdoors life, as well as adventure and a chance to travel. He got this, and more.

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Greg, USA

Director of Business, Development Executive, Programs, Business School   ->  Director of Corporate Relations & Market Development, Business School

Greg certainly found that the personal relationships and “clan” at a well-known East Coast business school were a constant link, as he wove back and forth, in and out of this great school. His description of his path is quite different to that of some of the others here, as what he mentions most is how there was a lot of serendipity involved in his long career, that “just happens” to include multiple moves in and out of the school. As a young MBA in 1975, Greg’s first job was on the MBA Admissions Committee for his university. He had chosen this role not least because he just could not see himself taking a more traditional MBA route like consulting at McKinsey or trading options on Wall Street.

Olivier, France

Director Technologies, Caisse des Dépôts   ->  Director Public Affairs, Alcatel Lucent (now Nokia)

Olivier, an engineering graduate was seeking a career in industry, and joined the French global telecommunications company, Alcatel-Lucent hoping to be offered an expatriate post.  A year later he found himself working in the U.S.  While the work was fascinating, and he liked the culture, after seven years he felt the “itch” to move on, and left the giant for a small internet-based start-up. Two years on, the company failed, and although Olivier had a Green Card, he chose to return to France where he joined the French public finance institution, “Caisse des Dépôts”. The work was enjoyable enough but after six years he realized he preferred industry and application over theory and advice, so when offered the chance to return to Alcatel he had no hesitation in accepting.

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