What is some good advice for people who want to reinvent their careers from scratch? originally appeared on Quora, the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.
A couple of years ago I made the decision to leave my position of President, AT&T South EMEA which I handled during 7 years (a great company, a fabulous team and exciting business challenges), to join HEC Paris business school as EVP for Custom Programs. Furthermore, I left behind more than 25 years of experience in IT and Telecom to jump in a brand new world: Executive Education.
There is no deep analysis behind the following article, please take it as the reflection of my own experience and a pragmatic approach.
1 - The decision
Moving to an entirely new world is not a snap decision. This is something you need think about, talk about, get views about. There are multiple implications in making such a decision: you will dive in a world where you are probably not at the top of having skills or knowledge, where your network will be limited, where you will lose some of the reflex you had (Telecoms business models where extremely familiar to me, I had to 100% discover the Education models). On top of that, you may lose some of the prerogatives you had in the previous world, such has hierarchical position, benefits, a large office space, business class travels…
As a consequence, think twice: What is really important for you? What are you ready to abandon? What truly makes you smile when you need to go to work ?
As well, do not underestimate the impact on your private life, and make sure you have discussed this with your family and partner. You are not alone on this boat!
2 - Be eager to learn
As you step in a brand new position, environment, activity, segment, you NEED to be starving for knowledge, culture, information. Your insatiable curiosity is your best ally, and your capacity to learn will be a very strong competitive advantage.
I am now at 2 years with HEC Paris and I can tell you there is not a single day that I close out saying “I haven’t learned anything.” I am discovering things everyday, and when things are not coming to me, I am exploring, asking questions, listening.
My team and HEC Paris faculty have been of a fantastic help for that process, and I thank them every day for their patience, kindness, and for their expertise they never hesitated to share. They helped me accelerate my learning curve.
3 - Be humble
You are entering a world where, be sure of that, you are a newbie.
Accept it with enthusiasm and even if you were occupied with a prestigious position previously, position yourself with a low profile. This doesn’t mean you have to forget who you are, it only means you need to find your place, demonstrate first that you listen, understand, and then, and only then, demonstrate what you are capable of.
If he wants to survive, the most powerful lion in the jungle needs to listen to the fish if he is dropped in the middle of the sea.
Finally, I would encourage to look ahead, to believe in your future and a successful path in this adventure. If you start to look back and, to some extent, to regret some of the things you had, you may have a bit of a hard time.
But I am unsure about this: I haven’t looked back a single second!
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