Before I get to sharing why I left PwC I’d like to explain the headline photo of this article
There’s been a bit on LinkedIn recently about how it’s a professional medium and people ought to keep personal content/images/whatever to the likes of Facebook and Instagram. I get the rationale but I have a different view.
Three years ago, my unborn daughter was the thing that gave me the biggest kick up the bum to do something about my passion. As my daughter was growing in my wife’s belly I kept imagining how I wanted to be a role model that she looked up to. I wanted to be a good person so she could learn from my lead and be kind too. I wanted to be healthy so she prioritised looking after herself. And when it came to her career, I kept imagining this conversation I’d have with her some day soon:
Daddy, what should I do for work?
I don’t know Isha, but you should find what you love and go do it.
Do you love your work Daddy?
At this point I’d imagine the conversation could go in one of two ways. Either I would be full of enthusiasm sharing with her what I did for a living and how I absolutely loved it. Or I would make up a story about how fantastic my work was, when deep down inside I knew that I just didn’t enjoy it all that much.
The thought of having to make up a story to my daughter absolutely mortified me – and at that point in time I vowed to do whatever I could so that one day when she was old enough and this conversation actually happened, I could respond in a way that was representative of the role model I wanted to be.
And so pursuing my passion is personal and that picture encapsulates the most powerful driving force in my life.
Speaking of powerful driving forces, that’s a nice segue into why I left PwC
Once I had discovered what my passion was (I’ll get to this later) I explored bringing it into the behemoth that is PwC. Whilst I didn’t appreciate it at the time I had a few experiences to suggest that bringing a startup into PwC is a bit like child birth.
If a baby is born before full term (the 40 week mark) then the following is most likely to happen*:
- After 32 weeks your baby will most likely thrive in the world
- Between 28 and 31 weeks there’s a really good chance your baby will survive
- Between 22 and 27 weeks, chances of survival are iffy (no this isn’t a term used by medical professionals)
- Below 22 weeks, the odds of survival don’t look so good
*Disclaimer: these are the views of someone who barely passed science at high school so please don’t take this as gospel!
My business was around the 10 week mark – bit beyond the embryonic stage but still lots of growth and development of vital organs ahead, hence the prognosis of survival in the world of PwC wasn’t too good. The structural dynamics of large organisations can be throttling to the creativity, speed and fail fast mindset that startups need to adopt these days. I can just imagine what it would be like for a startup living in a behemoth – the first few months of status reports would light up like a Christmas tree with the constant iteration and learning that would drive stakeholders who yearn for stability and low risk insane.
And so what is this startup I decided to leave PwC for?
Rewind to 2012 and I was sitting in a conference on the future of work. Amidst all the talk of artificial intelligence and robotics, 2 things really struck me:
- I’m probably going to be working well into my 70s…maybe even older, and
- I’m working a hell of a lot longer each day than my parents, my grandparents…and all previous generations before them.
Once I recovered from being hit in the face by these realisations I looked at my role at PwC and wasn’t sure if I could see myself advising large organisations on complex people related transformation issues for the next 40 years of my life. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t hate what I did – after more than 6 years of top level experience I had seen my fair share, and just couldn’t see myself doing it for a significant period of time.
And so I set out to find what I really loved to do. I looked far and wide and guess what – I found nothing. There was no simple, easy to apply process to help me find a career I loved.
As a smart management consultant, with a ton of experience in the area of people engagement and change, I set out to build the process for my own benefit.
It’s amazing when you start a journey of not quite knowing where it’s going to go what you learn. I looked at everything I could find on what makes people happy in life, drivers of engagement in the workplace to positive psychology. I discovered that Harvard has a 80 year study (that is still ongoing!) on what makes for a happy and healthy life (there’s a TED talk here). I also learnt that since 2012 the UN commissioned the Sustainable Development Solutions Network to produce a yearly world happiness report (click here).
Apart from pouring over existing research, I also undertook my own study on the drivers of happiness at work. It was fascinating to comb through 20,000+ data points on what makes people tick at work.
Throughout this entire process I coached and mentored countless people which enabled me to refine the process. And then something interesting happened.
I realised that I derive a lot of energy from helping people find a career they love. Not only do I have a unique ability to help people unlock what that thing is, I get a real adrenaline rush when we figure it out together. I must say it took me a few years to really own that this is my passion – I mean here I am trying to find my passion and it turns out it is helping others find theirs?
Once I owned my passion, I built a program which comprises of a half day workshop followed by monthly virtual sessions over the phone. Since August 2016 I’ve been running these programs and had some fantastic results.
My clients have found genuine happiness in their careers in such a short period of time, in some cases after years of soul searching. I must say the gratification I get from helping someone find what they love and in turn happiness is probably my biggest career achievement so far.
As I say to people all the time, we spend so much time in our careers these days that we owe it to ourselves to find our passion.