Changing a Career Within an Organisation

If changing your role and direction within your organisation is something that is on your mind then I have a quick story for you about how I did this when I was working at Sasol. 

In this video I describe why and how I made this change. I also list the three essential steps you need to take to make this work.

I experienced a career crisis early on in my career in which there was a disconnect between my career plans and objectives and how my career was actually developing. 

When I started my career I had a clear vision of how I wanted my career to progress. I considered myself to be a high achiever and I had a strong leadership focus. I wanted to get some practical experience and then do an MBA and use the MBA to accelerate my climb up ‘the corporate ladder’ into a senior management position with an objective to serve as an executive Director in a board room. My plan was that I would spend the first two thirds of my career climbing the corporate ladder and the final third serving as a Director at executive level. 

I knew the route to a board room was through promotions and the leading indicator for me to evaluate whether I was on track with this planned trajectory was that I should at the very least be keeping abreast with my top performing peers in terms of promotions. 

The crisis emerged when I was eligible for a promotion, and had been told that I was going to be promoted but the promotion didn’t materialise. Not once, but twice and at the time I was two promotions levels behind my target peer group. In my eyes my career was in serious trouble.

I had to make a change but I didn’t know what or how to change.

At the time I had an opportunity to go on a long holiday and applied to take a sabbatical, which to my surprise was granted. This gave me the time I need to reflect on what was important to me and to refocus my career. I realised that a greater strategic impact could be achieved when working on projects at the beginning of the conceptual development phase.

So upon my return I was attracted to the New Business Development department, where a small team worked on new ideas. I did some networking, to discover more about what they were doing in more detail and asked whether it was possible to join the group on a secondment. One of the managers took me on for a four month period, and during this time I established my value to the team and was given an opportunity to join the group in a full time capacity.

In making this transition there were three essential steps I had to make. First, I took some time out from my normal routine in the form of a sabbatical (or retreat) to reflect on what I really wanted to do. Second, I did some important networking, in which I developed a relationship, expressed my interest, explained the strategic fit with my career objectives and strengths and offered a value exchange with a ‘money back’ type guarantee in the form of a temporary secondment (it wasn’t a permanent move, so no formal interview and selection process was required). Third, I ensured that the group I was leaving didn’t need me and that I had fulfilled all my obligations to them. I achieved this by wrapping up my responsibilities before I left for the sabbatical

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