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How to jump onto the purpose ship (without sacrificing your skillset)

6 May 2021 at 12:21 pm
Maggie Coggan
Are you looking for more meaning in your executive gig? We ask the experts on how you can get there. 

Maggie Coggan | 6 May 2021 at 12:21 pm


How to jump onto the purpose ship (without sacrificing your skillset)
6 May 2021 at 12:21 pm

Are you looking for more meaning in your executive gig? We ask the experts on how you can get there. 

It’s not uncommon for corporate executives to spend their day dreaming of a job with purpose.  

But while you might have 20 years experience in finance markets and corporate leadership, taking the plunge into a sector you have no experience in, is scary. 

Luckily, there are steps you can take for this transition, without having to sacrifice all that you’ve learnt throughout your corporate career. 

We sit down with Richard Evans, the managing director of Talent Nation, for some advice. 

Is it necessary to leave behind everything you’ve learnt in your corporate job? 

Absolutely not. I think it’s really important, regardless of the sector that you’re moving into that you take what you’ve learned into your new role. You never leave your experience at the door, regardless of whether you’re transitioning into a completely new field or industry, because you build up some fantastic experience that can be useful right across the board. 

If you look at the skills across the for-purpose space and the traditional corporate space, they’re exactly the same. And I think probably one of the biggest misconceptions [when people are moving] into a not for profit or purpose role is that [these organisations are] not commercial or they don’t operate like a traditional business. They are still privy to the same pressures that a regular business is. So those skills hold you in good stead regardless of whether you’re in the private, public, or for-purpose sector.

Should someone lower their expectations about the kind of job they will find in the charity sector? 

It depends how you define expectations. Historically, people have measured their worth against their salary package, but in the for-purpose space it’s really about the impact you can have. If you’re looking at the impact you can have on making positive social and environmental change, then your expectations should increase. It’s really important to work out what you want to get out of the role, which I don’t think is too dissimilar from someone looking to change roles. You work out what your drivers are, what your motivation is, and what success looks like for you. But I don’t think you should lower your expectations.

Is there anything they shouldn’t do? 

This is less common now, but certainly historically, you [would see] people coming from a more corporate background looking to transition into the for-purpose sector and they would treat the move as if they were doing the sector a favour by coming across. This downplays the capability that individuals have in the sector, which is just not true because there are people doing incredible things in this space. 

I think, as well, if there is a financial change, it’s about getting very clear that you’re comfortable with that, because some people don’t realise the extent of it.

And lastly, some of these roles are really busy and stressful and full on. I think people can view [working in the for-purpose space] through rose tinted glasses and make a change because they are too busy in their corporate job, [but this] just isn’t correct.

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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