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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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Nick, UK

Principal, The Boston Consulting Group   ->  Director of Strategy, Cancer Research UK

Nick, a former cost-cutting and re-organisation expert in the strategy consulting field, experienced an innovative approach to remuneration while he was working as a “partner” of Save the Children. The Boston Consulting Group worked with Save the Children to send consultants on missions across the world, with a dual contribution to a reasonable (but reduced) salary. This meant that there were few if any barriers to a consultant going off on this adventure. When Nick joined Cancer Research UK as director of strategy, he soon discovered that he had hundreds of different stakeholders to get to know and to “take with him on a journey”. He notes the challenge of bringing people on board in the consensus-driven culture that prevails at nonprofits.

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Richard, New Zealand, USA

MBA, INSEAD   ->  Wireline Engineer, Schlumberger

Richard, a 55-year-old C-suite executive, is without any doubt a poster-boy expat, who has not looked back. He grew up in small-town New Zealand, and nothing particularly predisposed him to an international career. His family expectations were that he get a good education and seek out a sound career path. But Richard knew early on that he wanted to explore the wider world. It was perhaps this desire to “get out” that drew him towards French in high school. He proved to be gifted in the language, which would later become critical to his success. At university, Richard studied engineering, in the hope that it would take him “out to where the action is”. During his penultimate year, he landed an internship with oil services company Schlumberger in Borneo, and he was, as he says, “hooked”.

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Ferdinand, USA, Philippines

Managing Director, Oper8tr   ->  Co-Founder, DOCTOURZ

Ferdinand is of Filipino ethnicity but was actually born and raised in the US, his parents having immigrated during the 1950’s. They refused to teach him Tagalog, due to fears of racism and discrimination. As he advanced into more senior roles in training and offshoring within large corporations, he became known as the “Philippines expert”, as his familiarity with the culture was high–but he is nevertheless, despite appearances, a foreigner. He has now been in the country for several years, building an ambitious company, Doctourz, which aims to offer greater choice in medical services.

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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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Iona, United Kingdom

European equity analyst in investment banks   ->  Landscape Architect

Iona encountered fewer obstacles on her journey. Raised in the Scottish Highlands, she frequently travelled with her family, developing an appreciation for local cultures and languages. An exchange year in France and a gap year in Australia later convinced her that she needed to make a lot of money to finance her wanderlust. So she decided on a career in investment banking in London.  She first took a junior role on the trading floor at Goldman Sachs, before joining another bank, selling European equities. She loved the constant travel, the glamorous clients and the bright people around her. However, after seven years, the finance world started shifting. As the environment became far less pleasant, she reconsidered her options.

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