Proof That A Successful Career Rarely Takes A Linear Path

Editor’s Note: I’ve had five major career changes and I haven’t even turned 40 yet.  And I’m not about to stop. In fact, I’m working on my next one. My parents are bewildered by the various paths I’ve taken – in their eyes, it’s completely disorganised, directionless and unstable. Christina Yiannakis explores the new reality of the modern  career at an International Women’s Day luncheon hosted by VMWare and Females In IT and Telecommunications. And she  reports the new career route is not what we once imagined.  Enjoy, Robelen x

When I was asked to attend the FITT (Females in IT and Telecommunications) International Women’s Day luncheon I experienced two waves of emotions.  The first was obviously excitement to be able to attend what promised to be an amazing event.

The second was fear.

Why would someone who was going to attend a two-course luncheon in the grand surroundings of Melbourne’s Mural Hall feel fear?

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To put it simply, I sometimes feel like an intruder during the old “networking” part of business events.  Discussions concerning my career often end in looks of profound shock as a result of the twists and turns the narrative takes.  After detailing how many times I have changed locations, changed jobs, and changed the direction of my career, I start to question how seriously the person I am attempting to network with will take me.

Luckily, things turned out differently this time around.  In what appeared to be a direct response to my fear, the theme of the event was “Inspiring Change”.

Oh, I am so good at change!

Introduced by FITT Chair, Terrie Anderson, the afternoon took on an air of excitement as each speaker discussed the kinds of changes they want to see in their work, and the inspiration behind the changes they have each made in their own lives.

“Not many people have a linear career path, and … career changes should be embraced and celebrated  to empower ourselves and inspire change in others.”

Rita Butera, the executive director of Women’s Health Victoria, was the first guest speaker.  She highlighted why her organisation is fighting to change attitudes, as body image concerns and violence against women have a considerable impact on the health and wellbeing of women across the state.

Her talk was followed by a side-splitting speech by Grainne Kearns, the CIO of Jetstar.  Kearns’ charismatic and to-the-point take on the “inspiring change” theme saw her discuss the ups and downs in her own career, and her decision at 40 to drop it all and follow her dreams.

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The founder of FITT and 2013 NSW ICT Woman of the Year, Maggie Alexander, was up next.  Her enthusiasm to support women as they change their lives, and the lives of those around them, through work and life choices was infectious.

Katerina Andronis, the director of the Life Sciences and Health Care Industry for Deloitte then roused the audience with her dry wit, as she shared the story of her career and how integral embracing change is for anyone working with technology.

Jude Horrill, the head of communications at the Global Technology, Services and Operations division of ANZ, was the final speaker, and the perfect way to sum up the excitement the speeches invoked.  Horrill began her working life as a professional musician, but realised something had to change.  She chose to move on and into a new industry, illustrating that change is constant and must start with the self.  Using her life as an example, she demonstrated her point with gusto, ensuring every person attending knew that change will only happen if we change ourselves for the better first.

After a delectable lunch and a panel discussion between the speakers the dreaded networking began, but this time it was different.  This time I approached people with confidence and excitement as I introduced myself, told my professional story, and listened to others.  Not many people have a linear career path, and the life changes the speakers had each described made me realise that career changes should be embraced and celebrated  to empower ourselves and inspire change in others.

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