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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

Lee, United States

Financial analyst in banking industry   ->  Principal at L&L Hospitality

During 2011-2012, on the INSEAD campus nestled in the forest of Fontainebleau, Lee went through a most intense and challenging year. Her time spent as an MBA student there was fraught with the realities of running two successful hostels in Barcelona at the same time as studying a demanding program. And yet, prior to that, she had walked the “good girl” path of going to Wharton to do a degree in Finance and International Business, and interned and worked at Goldman Sachs for several years. What induced her to make that drastic change? And to do it so young? Some clues lie way back. As a child living in the US, Lee had admired her businessman father, and watched her mother emerge from “just teaching” into becoming an educational entrepreneur.

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Henna, USA

Marketing and innovation executive   ->  Board director, Engro Corporation

Based in the United States, Henna had already left the corporate environment several years earlier and had just published a highly successful book, so the demands on her time were high. However, she agreed to meet the chairman of the board during his business visit to the U.S. She summarized the meeting’s outcome in this way: “I arrived curious, and went away inspired, and wanting to do it!” She was fascinated by the vision of the chairman. He aimed to be the very best employer in Pakistan and to grow world-class talent. Henna felt that, by agreeing to take on the role, she was “doing the right thing for her birth country”.

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Anand, India

CHRO, Chief Learning Officer, Sales & Marketing executive   ->  Adjunct Professor, Strategy and Leadership, IMT Ghaziabad

Anand, a self-confessed “hobby teacher” by the age of eleven, definitely showed all the signs of ending up in academia early on, even though by now, he looks for balance in his work. During his college years, Anand was the president of the India Youth Brigade, where he worked with teachers and leaders to serve the underprivileged through education, while studying for a BSc in Physics and Maths. He then went on to gain a computer science certification, in the early eighties, becoming one of the early entrants into the nascent Indian IT boom. Several years began of highly prestigious national and international companies’ training schemes and rapid progress, mixing IT with strategy, marketing and account management, thus he became early on an accomplished “all-rounder”.

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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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Celia, UK

Military Doctor   ->  Photograph, area manager at an online health and wellness company

Celia has moved in and out of medicine since she began her career. She was always planning to be either a doctor or a vet, and eventually decided to opt for caring for humans, based on advice she received and found persuasive while attending a careers fair. She was supported through university medicine studies by the Royal Army Medical Corps, and thus her first house job was in a military hospital. Months more of such postings would have ensued, but the Gulf War broke out and army establishments became off limits to civilians, and she then transferred to a non-military role. This switch allowed her to reflect on her experience, and to recognize that her natural preference might not be for treating otherwise healthy young men, and that her talents in care could probably lead her in other directions, especially when it came to building rapport and more holistic approaches.

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Kavitha, Canada

Women's Tennis Association   ->  Trade Strategy and Insights, The Coca-Cola Company

Kavitha was a four times Canadian junior tennis champion before “going pro”. After completing an MBA at INSEAD she went to work for Coca-Cola where the discipline, equanimity and global adaptability developed during her years on the tennis circuit, were put to good use. One potential liability she noted, however, was the difficulty some sports stars have in modifying their competitive nature. Fostering a team environment that is conducive to success is not necessarily compatible with an athlete’s desire to win at all costs.

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