February 7, 2023 in Case Study, English

From 27 Years in the Same Company to CEO in a Charity: Read How Kim Made It!

Kimberly Fitch Tully worked for the same company for 27 years before a company-wide change prompted her to re-examine and change direction. She is now the CEO of a non-profit organisation that makes an impact in the world. Key facts about Kim's career transition:

  • Kim has changed career and moved from 27 years in the same company to non-profit
  • Kim’s change moved her up into a new role of CEO, something she had never done before 
  • Kim's career change was bold and inspiring and you can do it too! 

What you will learn from Kim’s change of career:

  • You don't always need to re-start from scratch
  • Once you get into the right mindset, life offers more opportunities than you can foresee
  • How to get unstuck where you cannot see a way forward

Ciao Kim! Great to have you here sharing your story!
Could you please share what’s your career now and what were you doing before?

I have been the Chief Executive of Engaging Dementia for a year. Engaging Dementia is a registered charity in Ireland, which provides dementia-specific training for those who care for and interact with people living with dementia in nursing homes, day centres, hospitals or the family home. 

Before this, I worked for 27 years for Ingersoll-Rand, a fortune 500 company. I was transferred a couple of times internationally in a variety of roles as well. My last role was as a Contract Manager, looking after our distribution channel in Europe, Russia & CIS, Middle East and Africa.

What made you think you wanted to change your career? And when you realised a change was needed, did you already know what you wanted to do? or did you have no idea what else you could do?

After a merger, I was offered a nice redundancy package. My managers were fighting for me to stay, but the longer I contemplated my options, the more excited I got about starting a brand new adventure, and doing something different.

I did not know what I wanted to do, but was interested in moving into either the voluntary/charity sector or the green sector. I have always been interested in social and environmental issues, and had also done a lot of volunteering over the years, and had also worked on employee focus groups at Ingersoll-Rand. 

Since I had been with the same company for 27 years, I was daunted by the whole process though - creating a CV, interviewing, etc. I assumed the whole process had changed dramatically since 1993, and while I am a confident person, the idea of looking for a new position filled me with dread. Not the job itself, but the process of getting there. I think that without Bruna, I would have wasted time worrying, instead of getting on with the career change. She provided me with clear action items to work on, and a road map to the change.

How did you find out what was your ideal career if you had no idea?

I took the summer of 2020 off to contemplate my options and started to work with Bruna at that time. First of all, Bruna and I hit it off right from the start, and I felt very comfortable and open about the issues that I was pondering. Bruna interviewed me and then gave me some great advice. I started journaling about what I wanted, what I was concerned about, etc. I also started looking at possible open positions via job alerts to see if any of them interested me, and to give me an idea of what kinds of roles were available. I also did a couple of informational chats with people both in the green sector and charity sector, friends of friends, to learn and find out as much as I could.

I had been in different high-pressure and very busy roles over the years, so I knew this was not what I wanted anymore, as well as the change of sector. So I ruled out the green sector fairly quickly, since many of them tend to be small, startup companies, and decided that I would focus on the voluntary/charity sector instead.

When you decided to change your career, what obstacles and challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Again, my inexperience in the sector, and my dread about the whole “finding a job” process were major obstacles. But Bruna is both a great cheerleader when you need her to be and also very practical. Each time we “met”, we discussed the next steps and she gave me “homework”. I really liked that Bruna gave me loads of ideas, but encouraged me to follow up on the tasks that appealed to me and felt natural for me. For example, she gave me the idea of creating a video about myself to send to potential employers. I at first did not like the idea at all, but it started to grow on me as she explained the benefits. In the end, I did not end up having time to do this before I found my role, but I was more open to it. I felt that while encouraging me to get outside of my comfort zone at times, she always left the final decision with me.

Please describe the steps you’ve taken to land the new job:

  1. I started to look at the jobs listed on LinkedIn, and also on job websites, to see what kinds of jobs were available. This got me focused on what I would put into my CV.
  2. Bruna recommended that I write "my story" including my values and vision, and what I wanted to do. This also helped in the development of my CV.
  3. talked to some people working in my goal industry (charity/voluntary sector) to see what was important to hiring managers seeking new employees.
  4. I asked some people in the industry and other experienced HR friends to review my new CV/resume.
  5. ***THIS ONE IS KEY*** I started telling everyone I ran into that I wanted to move into the charity/voluntary sector. This proved to be a great strategy because a friend eventually gave me the tip that led to me getting my current role.
  6. Once I had jobs that I wanted to apply for, I spent a lot of time tweaking my CV to fit the job I was applying for. I wanted it to be obvious that I had read the job description.
  7. Once I had a job interview, I did a test interview with Bruna, and also with a friend who was working in the industry.  I also practiced on questions that I had found online, and recorded myself on Zoom so I could watch back, and change things so I sounded sure and confident in my answers.

In order to make the change, did you take a salary cut? If you did, what helped you afford it?

I did, but due to the redundancy package I received it was all fine.
Also, since I now work a 3 day week, and 2 of those days from home, I have more time to cook meals from scratch, which is more economical. I also no longer need to spend money refreshing my wardrobe on a regular basis, and commuting costs, etc. are much lower. Part of this is obviously Covid related.

How did working with Bruna help you?

She put organisation around my sometimes chaotic thought processes at the time. It was a bit overwhelming at times, but she helped me break the whole change process into manageable chunks.

She gave invaluable guidance around moving to another sector, how to update my CV and social media, and how to prepare for interviewing.

Describe three or more things you enjoyed about the process of working with Bruna.

Her laugh/smile/enthusiasm made the process very enjoyable. She never made me feel overwhelmed with the things I needed to do, but gently helped me set priorities. Her joy at my success… she was one of the first people I wanted to share my good news with.

How do you feel in your new career path? What benefits are you experiencing in terms of happiness, aliveness, fulfilment, finances, mood and so on?

There are many benefits. I feel like what I do is making a difference in peoples’ lives, that what I do is meaningful. This is very important to me.

I also love that there is less politics in the voluntary sector. There is a lot of collaboration and support within and between organisations, and my board is also very supportive of me. 

What is the major benefit in your life of this career change?

The feeling well in myself for sure. I feel like I am on the path I am meant to be on.

Thinking about the future, would you consider using a Career Coach again to progress or change a part of your career? Explain your reasoning.

I would definitely use a Career Coach again, and have actively recommended this to friends who are contemplating a career change. It can be a daunting task, so it is very important to have someone experienced, by your side, guiding your steps.

On top of your career change, in what way this coaching journey helped you grow in other areas of your personal life?

I was already a very confident person, but I think it taught me to trust myself even more. I know my gut will not lead me astray. I made the leap to a completely new sector, during a global pandemic… it kind of makes me feel I can do anything.

What have you learned about yourself through coaching with Bruna?

That all of my skills and experience are completely transferable to a new sector, and not just transferable but highly sought after and valued. I feel that I have been able to make a big impact at the company where I work, and that there is so much more that I can do.

Finally, what is your top tip for people who are stuck in the wrong career?

While I don’t feel that I was stuck in the wrong career, I did feel like I was in an increasingly stressful role/company/situation that was slowly starting to affect my health and well-being. I am much happier now, and thrilled with how things turned out.

Thank you Kim, your story will inspire many others to make a change that makes them feel alive! Keep up the great energy!

In conclusion:

As you can learn from Kim's big move:

  • Changing your career is possible no matter how long you have worked in a company or organisation.
  • No matter what position you have, you can make a bold, direct move in a new direction and even raise your position/reputation.
  • With the right support, you can save time and energy to make the move you want.

If you, too, want to change your career and feel great as Kimberly today does, book a session with me!

Hey, why don't you book a free consultation to feel how it feels working with me? 

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