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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

Anabel, UK

Partner / Chief Operating Officer, Pensions First   ->  Chief Operating Officer, Save the Children

Anabel says she had little experience in not-for-profit work, apart from a short project in Sierra Leone during her degree work in Human Sciences, as well as volunteer work in the U.K. with underprivileged children. She is perhaps too modest, as many of us have done far less than that. When Anabel says that purpose work “was not on her radar,” perhaps she means she did not see it as a legitimate way to make a living. She had spent ten years building a massive capacity as a leader and motivator of teams at world-class companies such as Virgin and Carphone Warehouse, and so had developed a taste for being challenged and stretched in this context.

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Michael, United States

Senior global marketing roles in consumer goods, entertainment and tech industries   ->  Software Engineer at Pear Therapeutics

Growing up in a military family, Michael moved more than 30 times around the world and the U.S. After getting a degree in economics and an MBA, he worked for many years as a marketer at Kraft Foods. He even did a stint as a professional rock musician, gaining local fame in New York, while keeping his day job. Marriage to a screenwriter brought Michael to the West Coast, where he first worked for Mattel. Later he was the global marketing lead of The Sims franchise at Electronic Arts. Living in San Francisco, he inevitably heard the call of the start-up and became CMO of a fledgling robotics firm, then the co-founder of a mobile app start-up. That was when he realised the importance of proper coding skills. In fundraising meetings, investors kept asking, “Can you code?”

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Laila, Philippines

Investment banker   ->  Co-Founder, Guerrilla Dining Concepts

Hailing from the Philippines, Laila was always a foodie. But in her comfortable family environment, only maids cooked for a living. So she became a successful banker, first at JP Morgan, then Deutsche Bank. Eventually she was offered a finance position in Dubai. She travelled often and frequently took solace in the food joints on her trips. Soon she wondered why she did not just go into the food industry. She took a year off, reckoning that she was still young and could always go back to finance. During that time, Laila visited Europe, hatching a strategy and saving as much money as she could. Settling on the city of San Sebastián in Spain, she began knocking on doors in search of an apprenticeship.

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Marieke, The Netherlands

Legal, strategy, M&A and finance executive

Marieke, a legal, strategy and finance Dutch executive, hadn’t considered board membership until she got a phone call twelve years ago. A headhunter asked her if she would be interested in joining a workers’ council, a common path to board work in the Netherlands. At the same time, a close friend began lobbying for her, as well as other women, to join more boards. With an overabundance of energy for taking on new challenges, Marieke found herself sitting on a museum’s audit committee alongside the Audit Chair of Heineken. In her first board meeting ever, Marieke realized that there were many unwritten rules.

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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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Eric, USA

Olympic Equestrian Rider   ->  Financial Analyst, General Electric

Eric, an Olympic equestrian from the U.S. Virgin Islands, set himself a clear agenda after leaving school. He identified high targets, specified time frames and focused exclusively on meeting them. His progression was spectacular, and he joined the team for the Pan-American Games in 1987, followed by the 1988 Olympics. However, with a 35th place at the Olympics, it was strikingly clear that he had not reached the threshold he had hoped for. At this point, he says, he recognized he was “good but not extraordinary” and it was time to act on his agenda and leave his sporting career behind him.

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