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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

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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Can, Turkey

Sales Operations Analyst, BMW Group Canada   ->  BMW Sales Operations Manager, Borusan Otomotiv

Can started his professional life in a prominent holding company in his native Turkey, as a promising young graduate trainee.  He moved in and out of various specialist sales and marketing roles and built a privileged link with BMW in Germany. Becoming known for his very specific expertise, Can was relied on as a valuable asset in the company. There was one significant drawback to this situation: Can became impossible to promote or develop, as nobody wanted to lose access to their expert. After a few years, Can realized he wanted to progress beyond what he could achieve at the company, and he left with his family to seek new opportunities in Canada.  On exit, Can was careful to be clear in his dialogue, stating his frustration, but keeping things friendly and warm.

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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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Romain, France

Master in Management ESCP Europe   ->  Business Development Manager, EO ASIA Pte Ltd

Frenchman Romain has already adapted to more than five cultures and languages in just under 30 years of life. He grew up in a fortunate environment, in which his family perceived travel and exploration as important and had the means to live out these values. He was educated bilingually in the international section of the lycée near his home in Toulouse, and his vacation jobs included managing a resort in Greece for a local travel company. So, it was hardly a surprise that he chose to take a semester during his business studies in Paris, to experience campus life in China. He aimed to have a career in Asia, at whatever cost.

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Devendra, India

Colonel, Indian Army   ->  Director /Chief General Manager, Transportation Company

As one of three brothers in an Indian “army family”, Devendra, now CEO of a French multinational, was destined to go into the military. After graduating from the military academy with top honors, he began a thriving career encompassing both combat roles and UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. In 2004, as a young colonel, Devendra was asked to raise a new unit, which he now compares to a start-up business with venture capital funding. Unlike most of his colleagues, who aimed to spend their entire careers in the army, Devendra started to crave a new challenge once he had served the obligatory 20 years. For him, the critical question was “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” When he realized it had been so long that memory failed him, he decided to reinvent himself as a business leader.

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Jonathan, UK

Doctor in Neurosurgery   ->  Innovation and strategy executive, healthcare companies

Jonathan stumbled into the medical field from a young age through brilliant scientific academic performance in high school along with social pressure.This is how he found himself studying medicine to Cambridge and “hating it”. Curiously, once he began the phase of his training in which he spent time on wards dealing with people, leading teams as well as counseling with patients, he realized he enjoyed this part. This motivated him to work hard and to aspire to what is perceived to be one of the most challenging aspect of medicine: surgery. Early on, he realized that he would never be a “great” surgeon, and did not want to settle for being only average. What is more, he observed that he had never met a happy senior surgeon, and chose not to pursue this path for much longer.

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