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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

John, UK

Olympic Rower  ->  Senior Policy Analyst, WaterAid

By the time John went to Cambridge University, he was already a national champion rower at schoolboy level, and had experienced different racing conditions all over Europe.  By his second year at Cambridge, he was a member of the British team. His rise was swift and he says it was this momentum which helped him grasp at every new opportunity. John went on to combine a career, first in the city for a merchant bank and then in the civil service while training full-time for the national squad. 

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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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Helen, Australia

Legal, risk and finance executive  ->  Board director in four companies

With a background in law, risk and compliance, Helen obtained her first non-executive director role in Australia three years ago via her networks. According to her, networking is the best way to get into board membership, as well as a skill that remains critical through an entire boardroom career. What drew Helen in was recognizing that she simply loved building strong businesses. As she says, non-executive roles are “the ultimate backstop of an organisation”. She finds the challenge fascinating and energizing, but adds that the liabilities that sit with non-executive directors are significant and can make one pause for breath. Helen recalls her first board meeting: “It was terrifying! I was very conscious I was the youngest person in the room, and the only female. I felt that I had insufficient experience compared to the others at the table.”

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Anne, France

Ballet dancer  ->  VP of Institutional Advancement at Cornish College of the Arts

At age 10, Anne had to be pushed up the stairs to her ballet school, kicking and screaming, so resistant was she to being forced back into ballet classes. She had spent the previous years becoming the junior ice skating champion of Ivory Coast during her family’s expatriation there and did not appreciate being “dumped” in a dance school, just because there was no local ice rink. However, it took less than a year for her to become hooked, and the grit and determination she had developed on the ice in Abidjan paid its dividends. Her artistic talent motivated her teachers to send her to audition at the prestigious Paris National Conservatory. Her parents allowed her to take up the place on condition that she maintained excellent grades in her academic work.

Steve, USA

Marketing & Account Management, Advertising  ->  First Grade Teaching, Elementary School

Steve looks very much like the classic case of an encore actor. He had spent his entire career in the advertising industry, mostly in New York, where he eventually led media departments. He lapped up the glamour, the rush and the pressure of his industry. However, when he and his wife decided to seek out a calmer place in which to raise a family, he took a role as account director in a large Chicago firm. Three firms and hectic roles later, when their twins were born, Steve decided to go part-time in order to help out on the home front. He was, as he admits, starting to feel burnout anyway. It was clear to him that spending more time with family was a greater priority than selling more advertising.

Dan, Canada

International development, waste management executive   ->  Professor and Research Chair, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

A self-confessed “under-performer” in high school, Dan had obtained a degree in engineering, through extra hard work and credits on a course that had started out being limited to geology. After some painful, unenjoyable years working in Canada’s oilfields, where money and being able to pay off student loans made up for the discomfort, the career Dan has carved out seems blissfully free of over-planning or trauma, and packed with serendipity. When the oilfield work dried up, he found a role, via the local unemployment office in Toronto, working on clean tech issues for the city. He then became responsible for waste management in the city of Guelph, and rapidly dug into projects including a recycling program and a sustainable retail store.

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