Career change from working in large broadcasting organisations, to life as a freelance writer.
What did you used to do?
I had been involved in some really exciting change projects for both the BBC and Al Jazeera. I worked in a communications role on the BBC’s move to W1 and in a similar role for Al Jazeera which included a complete rebuild and relaunch of their Arabic Channel in 2016. Having had the support of a large organisation all my life, making the switch to freelancer wasn’t easy. The irony was, I was a change professional finding it difficult to make change in my own life.
What made you want to change?
After 20 years working in broadcasting at the BBC and Al Jazeera, I was at a period of transition and I hit a milestone age, so I took time out to reflect on my life and career. I felt lost after having such a strong sense of identity in my previous roles, and I wasn’t sure how to start again. I had many things I wanted to do but my burning ambition had always been to be a writer, so I needed to figure out a way to channel my experience to fulfil that goal
How did you make a start?
I studied a master’s degree in human rights and a post graduate diploma in journalism. I became the (very mature) student editor of the Essex University Human Rights Blog, which gave me the opportunity to write and edit stories on a voluntary basis. But after I finished my Masters, I got stuck in a spiral of negative self-talk that held me back from reaching out to make new contacts for work. I lacked the confidence to go for what I wanted and with each day that passed, I felt more and more isolated. At that point, I got in touch with Karen, hoping that she could give me a magic formula that would help turn things around
How did you go about it?
I reached out to Karen for some much-needed advice. I’d never done any coaching before, and I didn’t know what to expect. Karen’s free 30-minute consultation was a breath of fresh air. She made me feel at ease and gave me some really clear ideas of where she could help.
What was it that helped you move forward?
Karen’s unique combination of a relaxed style with a structured approach gave me a sense of reassurance and progress with every session. What I found particularly helpful was Karen’s initial focus on me, rather than on my career. She helped me explore some inner truths and develop some techniques to manage my negative inner voice. For me, that was the key to unlocking my future. Talking to Karen wasn’t like talking to a corporate career coach. She became a friend and someone I felt safe confiding in.
What were the challenges?
Karen helped me work through some very challenging personal issues that I realised had impacted me throughout my career and were still holding me back. She also led me to a place where I felt comfortable pursuing a portfolio career of different interests.
How long did it take?
I worked with Karen across a period of 6 months and shortly after we finished our coaching, I reached out to human rights lawyer and Reprieve founder Clive Stafford Smith. I offered him and his brand-new NGO, 3DC, my help on a voluntary basis, writing articles and building a new website. This eventually developed into a paid position, which I now do on a part time basis alongside freelance writing on subjects that I’m passionate about. I’ve had articles published by Al Jazeera and other media outlets and I’ve also completed a draft of my first book.
What top tips would you give to someone who really wants to change career?
If you have a desire to make a change, talking it through with someone outside of your family/friends circle can really help. Identifying your strengths, values and talents and exploring self-limiting beliefs that might be holding you back from achieving are critical in charting a new course. My only wish is that I had been braver sooner and had reached out to Karen earlier.