marketing career

When I worked for Virgin Management, we were asked a series of questions to help people get to know us better. Questions ranged from ‘what did you have for breakfast?’ to ‘what’s your favourite book?’ and one of the most memorable for me was ‘are you a planner or a daydreamer?’.

As a part-planner, part-dreamer, it was a difficult choice, but it did make me think about what those daydreams centred on and it was often a new idea for a business or some creative opportunity to nurture an existing venture. I had a great role at Virgin, followed by a very rewarding role at Microsoft, but those dreams of a different path have remained and it turns out I’m not alone.

Research by the London School of Business and Finance found that 56% of people aged 18 to 55 are open to a major career move. This type of move is often referred to as a ‘career pivot’ – the decision to move into a career in a different role or sector, but which still makes use of your existing skills. Examples of career pivots include Hugh Pile moving from L’Oreal CMO to scaling his family’s business and Sarah Ellis moving from a successful career client-side to become managing director of agency Gravity Road.

READ MORE: Why Sainsbury’s Sarah Ellis made the rare move from brand to agency

So, on the basis that half of the people reading this have some interest in taking a different path, there are some steps to consider before you leap in.

When to pivot

Pivoting brings many challenges. You may lack experience versus your peers or you may need to develop new skills to be as successful as you are in your current role. Timing therefore becomes important in helping you to prepare and to land your pivot successfully.

Think about the skills you will need and invest in them now before you make the move. For example, my own forthcoming pivot requires some new legal and financial structures to be set up; I need to complete this work before I can confidently move forward.

Your mindset is also important: many people tie their identity to the work that they do and pivoting may change that identity. This is often a challenge for people who have climbed the ladder in a more traditional career and then…