Career Advice Career Doctor

Identify your strengths if planning to switch sector


I’ve learned all I needed to from my career as a high-flying executive in luxury retail. It’s been a fabulous life, especially as I had a regional role that covered the Asia-Pacific region. I’ve travelled the world, earned a fortune, and have an enviable collection of luxury goods. But in the last few years, despite my success, I’ve had a gnawing doubt in my soul that I wasn’t doing what I was meant to with my life. After a while, the glamour of my career lost some of its glitz, and I’ve become more frugal and pragmatic and less money-driven. I now believe that luxury retail is a symptom of a society too caught up in materialism ahead of humanity, in possessions over values, in individual prestige over social needs. So I want to make a mid-life career change and do something completely different.

More specifically, I want to transition to the development industry and work with international NGOs doing good in the region. I know I’ll have to make sacrifices regarding my income and benefits package. I’m prepared for that, though I’d prefer not to have to start in an entry-level position. I’m just worried that my previous career choices would either be counted against me or count for nothing.  I’m also worried about making such a drastic change from an industry where I’m an expert to one I know almost nothing about. I’m already in the middle of my working life, so it’s a little scary contemplating the unknown again. What should I do?