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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

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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Barbara, UK

Interim HR Director, WPP Group   ->  Founder, The Doubleknot Company Ltd

Barbara has recently undertaken what she calls her “fourth transition”, confidently having become an expert over the years in reflecting on what changes of context are appropriate for her at any given moment. Having dropped out of university with literally no idea of what she wanted to do, she entered the advertising industry via the secretarial route, and fought hard to climb up. She worked for a few years in a variety of independent agencies, progressing in a series of account management roles, and then decided to pursue an MBA. During a lecture on intangible assets, she had an “Aha!” moment, concluding that the next big business issue would be people, so she signed up for the HR route.

Amadou, Senegal

Finance, Operations and general management in Deutsche Post DHL

By the time he entered his first graduate program, aged 25, after completing two bachelors’ degrees and an MBA, Amadou had also accumulated almost twenty years of work experience, much of it full-time. No wonder he has been snapped up by every single company and boss he has served ever since. How did this happen? Coming from an “illiterate” family in Senegal, and being the oldest of nine brothers and sisters put a certain expectation on Amadou from the outset. His family was from a remote village, but his father had moved to Dakar in search of fortune. He ended up managing a Bata shoe store where Amadou came to work every day after school from the age of 6. “That is where I learnt sales!” While building the family’s future, he was still expected to do well in school and get the best grades possible.

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Richard, USA

Engineer   ->  Physician, advocate for a low-carbohydrate diabetes diet

Richard was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12 in 1946. He readily says “I do not know of many diabetics who developed the illness around that time who are still alive”. The story of how he has beaten those odds is a modern-day battle of David and Goliath, but it has brought better health to many thousands of those enlightened enough to follow his methods. During his childhood, Richard used the techniques of the time, including sterilizing his needles and syringes by boiling them and sharpening the needles on abrasive stone. Every night his parents would go to sleep, nervous that he would not wake up in morning, due to one of the crashing low blood sugar that he regularly suffered from, given the inaccuracy of insulin dosing at that time. By the time he was 25, and working as an engineer, Richard was already suffering many of the side-effects such as frozen shoulders, deformed feet, and kidney disease. While his doctor told him that this was normal, he could see clearly that if he continued on this path he would not live to see his young children grow up.

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Jean-Frédéric, France

Sales & general management, tech & healthcare industries   ->  Wine maker, Domaine des Maravilhas

Neither his background – a comfortable French professional family – nor his education in a classical French elite engineering school predestined Jean-Frédéric to a life as a winemaker. After six years in the aerospace and defence industry, he earned an MBA at INSEAD. This was followed by an international management career that took him to Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Switzerland, among other places, working for the likes of Philips, Quantum and Seagate. After enduring many restructurings, Jean-Frédéric started considering an entrepreneurial life. With his wife, he nearly bought a hotel and restaurant business in a ski resort. This opportunity was set aside when he was offered a key role in a healthcare company developing a breakthrough innovation.

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George, United States

Finance, marketing and business development for media and tech companies   ->  Front-end Developer at Aperto

George, a San Francisco native, gave no early indication that he would become a developer. After graduation, he joined an asset management firm. Despite enjoying the intellectual challenge, he disliked the culture and soon left. He then embarked on a “journeyman’s career”, including theatrical marketing in Hollywood and corporate finance for a visual effects studio. He even used his basic coding skills to help his brother’s textile business in Mexico. As George looked to Europe for a challenge, he signed up for an MBA in France. He visited Berlin during a break, fell in love with the place and decided to become a Berliner. He joined a large advertising agency as a digital marketer for start-up clients. To meet deadlines, he often had to work out his own technical solutions.

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In the news

HBR Article

4 Pieces of Career Advice It’s Okay to Ignore

November 2020 Some of the most common career tips don’t pan out in the real world. Here are four you should ignore — and what to do instead.

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November 2020 How five professionals with different sexual orientations and gender identities dealt with their coming out and developed their careers.

Take Back Control of Your Career and Be Forever Employable

October 2020 A conversation with Jeff Gothelf, Author, Keynote Speaker, Organisational Designer, Coach and Consultant.
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