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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

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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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.

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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Anna, United Kingdom

General management, Flight operations and HR in Swire Group

While Anna was growing up, her love of horses – and, as she admitted, perhaps her natural authority – led to her dreaming of becoming a mounted police woman, and the dream persisted in her early years. Coming from a military family and moving around the world prepared her for what she would eventually do. But the way in which she came to it was unusual, to say the least. In her year “off” before university, Anna’s father had been posted to Tokyo, and she woke up every morning to amazing urban landscapes, including the large sign of the Swire Group on a neighboring building, which housed the company’s local headquarters. Not only did she get the visual cue, but she happened to become acquainted with some of the “house staff” or management trainees of the firm.

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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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Gabriel, France

MSc Engineeering, ICAM   ->  Electronics Engineer, PSA Peugeot Citroën

Gabriel’s father pushed him to take Chinese lessons when he started engineering school. He obeyed, somewhat unenthusiastically, but nevertheless, this opened his eyes to other opportunities. When a friend of a friend mentioned an internship in a Peugeot Citroën joint venture in China, he sent his CV, realizing that his study of Chinese, while not a job requirement, just might convince the potential employer.  At this point, he had no specific agenda, but was attracted by doing “something different”. Gabriel’s transition to working life in Wuhan was bumpy. He found it deeply depressing not to be able to communicate in a language he thought he’d mastered. He found himself working out of a dark, unheated basement, with little support.

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