Looking back, I probably started designing my life about 10 years ago when I was 38. With 2 children under 4, I was beginning to wonder if continuing my career in business development, with regular travel across Europe, was sustainable for me and my family. Up until this point any career development had been focused on developing my strategic skills to climb the corporate ladder, potentially ignoring all other possibilities.
One day I was talking to a web designer I was working with who told me about a friend who was a careers advisor in a university and my interest was piqued; I’d never before heard of something I wanted to do more than my sales and marketing roles despite always asking everyone I met about their jobs! Through the designer, I arranged to speak with his friend and find out more.
I remember the call and the advice distinctly. The work was rewarding and interesting and I had skills that would transfer but the openings were rare and further study was required. His advice: get some experience of the sector before committing to the training.
Which I did!
I got a job in a university, thanks to my project management skills and a previous volunteering role, on a project helping young people without a history of Higher Education in their family to transition to college and university. I met and talked to many more careers advisors and others from across the sector and then decided not to do the training!
For me personally, the role felt less creative than I had in mind – anyway, I was now super busy! My strengths in stakeholder engagement, presenting and organising events were recognised and I became more and more involved in programme management, eventually going from running one programme to several on a region-wide basis.
And yet a few years down the line, with lots of experience of running mentoring programmes and a coaching qualification under my belt, I analysed how I was spending my time using the ‘Good Time Journal’ exercise from the Designing Your Life book. It quickly dawned on me that the thing that brought me most energy was coaching and mentoring; the constant organising and managing of programme management was draining me. So, in spite of how rewarding and flexible my job was, I decided to pivot again.
I talked to many coaches, undertook the Designing Your Life accredited course for coaches, quit my job and set up Fiona Reith Coaching. I help ambitious professionals use design thinking to create a seamless transition into exciting work that makes their whole life work, whatever stage they are currently at.