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Disrupt Your Career!

We are delighted to share the last book of Coaching Across Borders’ Senior Associate Antoine Tirard!

Antoine brings 20 years of experience leading global HR and Talent Management functions for large organizations.

Together with Claire Harbour-Lyell, he has set out to explore major career changes of all types – army, sports, business, sabbatical… They have interviewed 50+ leaders across the world and cracked through all relevant literature.

Their book comes with high praise across corporations and academia alike.

As Executive Coaches and Consultants, we want to know what’s in it for the global leaders we support across industries and geographies.

Coaching Across Borders: Antoine, what’s in it for Executives?

Antoine Tirard: For a start, they are facing more critical crossroads in their careers: they are changing direction more often, and in increasingly radical ways. These are changes for which they were often not truly prepared.

Coaching Across Borders: Really? Aren’t Executives less likely to engage in career zigzags.. but rather follow one way: up?

Antoine Tirard: We don’t believe so. The good old advice of graduating from a good university, finding a blue-chip corporation, and working your way up until retirement on the golf course is not only outdated, but risky too. So the “one way up” model has become a thing of the past.


Executive careers without key changes are “risky”


Coaching Across Borders: Why do you say “risky”?

Antoine Tirard: Let me give you an example. Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at Egon Zehnder, has a brilliant take on disruptive careers. When he looks at a resume, he is actually looking for career changes. He says he worries when he doesn’t see major shifts. Why? Their absence could reflect untested competence to adapt to new challenges and environments, and a lack of aspiration to learn and grow.

Coaching Across Borders: You interviewed 50 “career disrupters” at the Executive level, around the world. What did they really get from these disruptions?

Antoine Tirard: They are great illustrations of Claudio’s point. Their experience going through major, sometimes adverse career changes boosted their determination, flexibility, learning agility, organizational awareness, resilience and emotional intelligence. These qualities are in high demand in a world that is increasingly complex, uncertain, global and diverse!


Career disruption is an opportunity for all Executives


Coaching Across Borders: Antoine, if I look at our Executive clients, it seems that “Diversity” representatives are usually more likely to have experienced some sort of disruption. The most classical one being extended maternity leave for women. Is disruption becoming equally relevant across the board? Or is it still more the story of “some Executives”?

Antoine Tirard: Career disruption following a career break for child-raising or family caring are indeed mostly experienced by women.  But this is only one of many examples of career disruptions! The nine cases of career transitions we discuss in the book were experienced by men and women, from 24 to 65 years old, coming from over 15 nationalities. Changing career is virtually open to any of us, and free from any ‘bias’ whether it’s age, gender, nationality or any other such qualifier of diversity.

Coaching Across Borders: So Executives are likely to face more and more talents with a surprising career path, right? What’s in it for Executives from a recruitment perspective? And how does this relate with today’s most pressing challenges?

Antoine Tirard: Our research has highlighted a big gap – and therefore a real opportunity – for hiring Executives and their companies. According to a recent Manpower Group survey, 31 percent of employers worldwide are having trouble filling positions due to lack of suitable talent. Most companies can fix the talent mismatch by expanding their view of their talent pools, valuing diversity of experience and be more flexible about their search criteria.


More advanced corporations take a different stand towards unusual careers


Coaching Across Borders: What best practices have you seen in that respect? 

Antoine Tirard: Goldman Sachs, UBS, PayPal and GoDaddy, for example, are creating “returnship” programs to provide a bridge back to work for those who have taken a break. Others, like Starbuck Coffee, Amazon or Johnson & Johnson have programs to hire former military talent.

Coaching Across Borders: So your book offers advices and best practices from various organizations, as well as concrete orientation to career changers themselves, right?

Antoine Tirard: That’s right. As an Executive, we recommend that you go through the cycle of Explore, Experiment, Engage and Expand again and again throughout our career.  The model is deliberately simple, but not simplistic, and involves a great deal of reflection and interaction with others.

Coaching Across Borders: Thanks so much for sharing, Antoine !

Click here to learn more about Antoine and Claire’s findings and purchase their book. 




About the Author

Fabienne Tailleur
Fabienne Tailleur is an Executive Coach and Consultant specialized in Leadership Solutions. She is the Founder and Managing Director of Coaching Across Borders. She leads and supervises a global network of Executive Coaches and business partners. Together they support High Potentials and Executives individually, in groups and in teams. Fabienne helps her clients fulfill their leadership potential, boost their performance, drive organizational change initiatives and meet new challenges.