Georgina Riddle*, an international corporate lawyer, has sought out the advice of CareerBalance at key junctures during the past decade of her legal career. She most recently came to see Simon Broomer when she faced an important decision about whether to accept a senior management position overseas. She is now working as General Counsel for a FTSE 100 listed company in the Far East.

What major issue did you want to tackle?

I’ve had an ongoing relationship with CareerBalance for 10 years. I first sought advice from Simon Broomer when I was in a very dark place working as an unhappy lawyer in large private practice law firm. I knew I didn’t want to be a partner in a professional firm, but I had spent years investing in my legal career and needed a new plan. The advice I received from CareerBalance was pivotal in guiding me towards other options, taking me outside my comfort zone and helping me realise I needed to take a career break rather than give up on the law entirely – thank goodness I didn’t do that.

How did CareerBalance help you move forward?

I returned to CareerBalance under a year later and moved to a senior in-house legal role. Over the years I’ve consulted CareerBalance to discuss issues ranging from salary negotiations, to alternative job offers, managing my maternity leave and general career goal setting. Most recently, CareerBalance was a crucial part of the decision-making process my family and I went through before I accepted a senior management position overseas.

Where did CareerBalance make the most impact for you?

Each and every time I’ve consulted CareerBalance, they have assisted me in making the best decision possible in the circumstances. They’ve provided objective, informative and principled advice based on sound market intelligence and they’ve given me the confidence to take the right steps in my career. Pro-active management of one’s own career can be very hard work and a lonely experience. Having CareerBalance there as a partner at times when I’ve need to make key career decisions over the last ten years has been crucial to my career outcomes and achievements.

How might things have turned out differently without the help of CareerBalance?

Without CareerBalance, I would probably have worried myself into a very different set of circumstances and definitely progressed much more slowly on the journey towards career satisfaction.

How is your new job going?

Very well! I’m now General Counsel for a FTSE 100 listed company, a role which I really enjoy that plays to my strengths, managing teams of lawyers and stakeholders across the world.

Would you recommend CareerBalance or go back in the future?

Most definitely. I often refer friends and colleagues to CareerBalance, whether it be those who have been in the same role in their company for too long and want to know what options are out there, or those who want or need a career change, or simply those who could benefit from a career check-up.

Georgina Riddle* had three Skype sessions and email support over a three month period with CareerBalance.

*Not her actual name

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Annelize Taylor is a lawyer who recently moved from South Africa to London. She came to see Simon Broomer at CareerBalance for advice on navigating the London job market and interviews. Soon afterwards she received two job offers. She soon plans to “return to CareerBalance to work on her broader career goals”.

What major issue did you want to tackle?

I had been working in a South African firm doing corporate transactional work. When I moved to London last year I wanted to get to grips with the London job landscape. My objective was to understand the working environments and cultures of different law firms in different areas of the Capital.

How did CareerBalance help you move forward?

I went for one session, before which I’d filled in a questionnaire about my priorities and preferences for my work and my life. During the session, we addressed what was most pressing – I decided I’d come back for a more in-depth career analysis at a later date. As an experienced former lawyer, Simon was well equipped to explain to me the peculiarities of the London legal scene, and where my personality would likely best fit in. Simon also walked me through a trial run of an interview and that really boosted my confidence.

Where did CareerBalance make the most impact for you?

The objective feedback Simon provided during the mock interview left me feeling well prepared, reassured and confident. Generally, it’s hard to know how you’re coming across, so that was really helpful.

How might things have turned out differently without the help of CareerBalance?

If I hadn’t gone to CareerBalance, I might have compromised on the quality of work and the level of the position. As it turns out, I don’t feel I’ve made any compromises at all.

It’s a very tough, competitive market and, as a foreigner, it’s standard practice in the City to discount a certain amount of post qualification experience for a limited period until you’ve proved yourself and adjusted. After our session, Simon predicted I’d have a choice of job offers and he was right. I received two offers – one from Dickson Minto which I accepted, and one from a Magic Circle firm. I thought Dickson Minto would be a very good fit for me now in terms of culture and exposure and I ran my thoughts past Simon before making the final choice.

How is your new career going?

I’ve been at my job for two weeks and I’m genuinely very happy here. I’ve found my home now.

Would you recommend CareerBalance or go back in the future?

I’m at a stage when I am thinking of the longer term and I plan to go back to CareerBalance in the coming months to look at broader issues. The law is rather a particular animal and Simon is very well suited to offer guidance on it. I plan to meet with Simon to look at wider issues for my career, including assessing performance, developing communication and business development skills, and preparing for partnership down the line

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Patrice Permantier is a financial lawyer who quit her job at an investment bank and came to CareerBalance looking for direction. She recently found a job as a capital markets lawyer at a smaller organisation and says she is delighted to have found a job she loves.

What major issue did you want to tackle?

Before coming to CareerBalance I had been negotiating derivative contracts for an investment bank. I was very unhappy in my job and had recently resigned, because it was really administrative and not legal enough for my liking. I didn’t know how to move forward.

How did CareerBalance help you move forward?

With Simon, I worked through exercises focussing on my achievements and values. The exercise that made the most impact on me was when I had to think of four jobs I’d like to do, irrespective of my experience and knowledge. It highlighted for me how much I didn’t like the kind of institution I was working for and how it wasn’t offering me enough variety.

Where did CareerBalance make the most impact for you?

Simon gave me plenty of ideas of new options to follow up. He never pushed me, but he suggested looking into smaller investment banks and more innovative companies, which I found extremely useful.
He also proposed alternative ways to channel my capabilities, such as working on a project basis for a legal research and publishing company, or giving seminars on law to business students. Although I didn’t pursue these ideas, the suggestions challenged my thinking.
Simon gave me the courage to apply for jobs and see the responses I got from recruitment agencies and employers. I soon found I was getting good feedback, even from jobs outside the negotiating category.

How might things have turned out differently without the help of CareerBalance?

I don’t think I would have found the courage so easily on my own to make things happen. Simon gave me more direction and opened me up to a breadth of options I hadn’t considered before.

How is your new career going?

It’s going really well. I started my new job a few weeks ago and I love it. I’m in a smaller company, the job is in an area of law which is new for me and there’s lots of variety. Till now I worked almost exclusively on derivatives law. Now I’m working on aspects of IT and litigation and I really enjoy it.

I’m delighted to have found a job I love. For a long time I had the feeling I needed to change my job to be happy in it. Before my current job, I’d spent a year in a bank, 20 months in another bank and 3 years as a lawyer before that. I now feel I’m here to stay for a good chunk of time and it’s great.

Would you recommend CareerBalance or go back in the future?

Yes, definitely. CareerBalance helped me define my objectives and gave me the courage to take the necessary steps to reach them.

* Patrice did 4 CareerBalance sessions with Simon Broomer

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Serena Taylor was a lawyer at a City firm when she came to see CareerBalance in 2009. Today, she’s doing a Masters in Speech & Language Therapy at City University and “wholeheartedly recommends” CareerBalance.

What major issue did you want to tackle?

I’d been working for a decade in a City law firm and I’d decided partnership wasn’t for me. I was stuck in a rut, working incredibly hard but bored at the same time. My hours were so long, I didn’t have time to think things through. Throughout my legal career, I’d found jobs via internal contacts and through others approaching me, but I needed to take charge and make a change. I found the CareerBalance website very good and seeing Simon helped me set aside time to focus on finding my new career.

How did CareerBalance help you move forward?

CareerBalance enabled me to set a timeline for change, focus on goals and talk through concerns. Simon goes right back to the beginning, asking you to explain your background, and helping you identify what you want out of life and patterns of what you enjoy.
The approach is very methodical and helped me realise things about myself I wasn’t aware of. It had been 13 years since I’d asked myself some of these questions. I realised that things which were important in the past were less so now and I updated my values. I had wanted to prove to myself I could achieve but I’d done that. Now I needed a new challenge.

Where did CareerBalance make the most impact for you?

Simon is an impartial observer but he also has a very good knowledge of the legal industry, so he wasn’t talking about abstract management structures. I certainly didn’t expect Simon to challenge me to think about why I was leaving law. He was a real devil’s advocate, questioning me about why I was leaving my job and a decade-long career. He was determined to ensure I would never ask the question “What if I hadn’t left?”. I see that as extremely useful. I don’t think anyone else would have challenged me that much. Simon understood I wanted to get to a decision. It wasn’t counselling, it was about an end result.

How might things have turned out differently without the help of CareerBalance?

I’d probably still be in my job moaning about it. Simon gave me the confidence to realise that it’s not the end of the world to leave the law.

How is your new career going?

I was already interested in speech and language therapy before I went to CareerBalance, but I’m now confident my decision was made systematically and is absolutely right.

Would you recommend CareerBalance or go back in the future?

Yes, I’d wholeheartedly recommend CareerBalance to others, especially lawyers, many of whom are nowadays questioning whether partnership is worth the sacrifices. Simon is not there to say you have to get out of law, but he understand the issues and I had a very good rapport with him.

*Serena did a five-session Career Planning & Job Search programme with CareerBalance.

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