Blog – Embracing Chance in Your Career Planning
‘Inspired noodles’, somebody typed in. ‘Hopeful biscuits’, said another. As a newly-minted CamAWiSE member, I played along when Cathy Sorbara asked us to share – in just two words – how we were feeling and what we’d last eaten. I looked down at my chat box and had to agree. It was after 8 pm, and I was feeling both hopeful and inspired after an intense session with Tracy Bussoli, London-based careers coach and consultant.
Tracy had begun with her own story and the role that chance had played in shaping her career. We listened as she recounted chance meetings that led to pivotal career moves and brought her to where she is today. Was it just luck or planned happenstance that lay behind these career choices? We weren’t sure, but we were intrigued.
She invited us to explore the role of chance in our own careers – in breakout rooms – a process I found surprisingly insightful. Next, she led us through an exercise to assess our main values and how these can impact the career choices we make. I was reassured to find some familiar items (creativity, problem-solving) and was surprised at yet others (diversity in the workplace – I had begun to take this for granted!). It was interesting to see how some of these factors (or lack of them) had played a role in my overall experience at my current and former jobs.
We went on to explore passively acquired skills and experience (often overlooked) and how these could be repurposed in interesting ways. Tracy ended with the logistics of job hunting today giving us clear steps we could take in the quest for a new career.
After a brief break, and encouraging us to stretch and unwind, it was Cathy Sorbara’s turn to inspire us with her journey. An all-round loveable lady whose career defied descriptions, Cathy had trained as a neuroscientist, worked as a researcher for a decade before striking out on her own. She ran the Cheeky Scientist, a global professional network to help PhD’s connect and explore work outside academia. In 2018 she set sail for Antarctica with 80 other women scientists, as part of an initiative to heighten the impact of women making decisions that shape our world. She came back armed with a new resolve to use her time and energy towards creating a healthier planet and a more sustainable society overall. She also brought back plenty of pictures of penguins with attitude to illustrate every stage of her journey thus far.
As I sat down to do a mind map of Tuesday’s workshop, a technique I wish I had discovered sooner, I was struck by how different yet similar Tracy and Cathy’s paths had been.
Both had left academia to pursue their passions, letting intuition guide them as they navigated their unconventional careers. Neither sought permission to go off the beaten track when the time was right. Both were clear about their values and practiced what they preached.
Their refreshingly honest accounts of what had led to the various pivots in each of their careers should be an invitation to us all to keep our minds (and hearts) open, to leave room for the unexpected.
I realised also, how well the two talks had complemented each other. While Tracy’s advice was practical, grounded and insightful, Cathy seemed to give us permission to reach for the impossible, to define success in our own terms, to fail if need be in our attempt to fly.
As we re-enter our workplaces and accept inevitable change as a result of the pandemic, their advice is timely yet timeless – that the attitude with which we regard change may be what matters most. Every crisis is an opportunity in disguise.
CamAWiSE would like to thank Tracy and Cathy for their informative and engaging workshop. Connect with Tracy for your careers consulting and coaching.