The pandemic came not only with the loss of lives but also jobs and businesses. Post-Covid 19, many people will find themselves without a job or will be forced to change career paths. People can – and do! – switch career paths every day. Cosmocreole speaks to Murline Lebon about her career change and the challenges that came with it.
Career change happens to the best of us-you find a dream job, go for further studies or join the workforce—work like mad to get where you want to be, only to realise the dream job was not such a dream after all. Either you do not get the job satisfaction you wanted, or circumstances force you to make life changes.
A career change can be a challenging and scary move to make, but it just might end up being the best move you ever make and find yourself doing something you are passionate about. Thinking of making a change? Have you been made redundant? Cosmoccreole has four top tips for you and Murline shares her career journey. Murline started her career in the media and broadcasting industry and now works in the Insurance industry.
“I have been married for 24 years to a very spiritually grounded, humble, and hardworking partner— together we make a great pair. We have three lovely children, two grown-up young men, Jean-Luc 23 years old, and Jean-Paul who is almost 20. Stephanie, the baby of the family is 15 years old.
“It was after the birth of my firstborn, that I decided to look for an 8-4 job. Moreover, after returning from my degree in the UK, I found myself doing the same thing I was doing before I left for further studies, and I needed more challenges. After I completed my A’levels at the then School of Humanities and Sciences in 1989, I joined the then School of Media Studies in 1990 for a year and SBC in 1991. In1993, I was awarded a government scholarship to do a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting Studies at the University of Leeds. Upon my return in 1996, I remember, during a meeting with the Managing Director of the Corporation, when I asked about the plan for me as a graduate, I was told that all journalists were equal. So I took it that there were no long term plans for graduates then.”
“After my maternity leave and a further 3 months sabbatical to care for my newborn, I applied for the position of Director for Cooperation at the Ministry of Health. Although it was a completely different field, with my journalist/PR background, I had a lot of transferable skills, I learnt a lot on the job and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was all about cooperation, both International and national, whereby we acted as a liaison office for all projects that the Ministry of Health wanted to implement. We assisted in submitting projects to different agencies, like WHO, UNFPA, UNDP, and the various embassies in Seychelles. It also meant working in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and attending international conferences and meetings.
” One project which I had some great memories working on was the Twinning Agreement Meeting in Reunion, whereby the Ministry of Health had a twinning agreement with Felix Guyon Hospital in Reunion. Patients were either going to Reunion for specialized treatment and Specialist doctors were coming to Seychelles at least twice a year to consult patients and performed surgeries on Seychellois patients.
“I spent four years in the post, and I can describe it as an enriching experience. I had good memories of a great working relationship with my superiors. I was supported to ensure that I grew as a person and in the quality of work I did. However, after a change of management and for personal reasons I decided to leave.”
” I was unemployed for 6 months and actively looking for new avenues when I was offered a position of Sales & Marketing Executive with H Savy Insurance. Insurance was totally a new field for me, whereby I had absolutely no knowledge of Insurance. So the beginning was quite painstaking—I was given countless materials to read—getting accustomed to insurance languages and policy wordings. It was not a pleasant and easy task. However, once I got the feel of the business and with the support of my General Manager and Chairman, I comfortable sailed through. In May this year, I will celebrate 19 years of service with H Savy Insurance, a number one General Insurance Business Company in Seychelles. This year I celebrated 30 years since I started full-time employment, and H Savy is the Company I have spent most of my working life with.”
“During those 19 years with the company, I have held three Managerial positions; Corporate Affairs, Life, and currently Motor and Non Motor. The latter I have held for the past 8 years. This is the main retail and sales side of the business, which involves a lot of interaction with the public on a daily basis. On average we attend to some 500 odd walk-in clients per week. I have a great team of 12 women in our Mahe office and two on Praslin.
“It took a great deal of willpower and determination to succeed in a field that was new to me and today, I consider myself as holding a vast knowledge of the insurance business. It is a sector where you keep learning every day. Being part of a dynamic management team makes it easy so to speak. Daily consultation takes place and everyone is so keen to pass on their knowledge.”
” The team I have been able to build in the past 8 years is probably the best part of my career development. I manage a team of 14 women and it has been a learning process for me, not easy and straightforward at all times. I have shed a few tears privately, but whenever I was down, there was always a colleague I could rely on to help me pick up. The biggest lesson I have learnt is that managing people is an art you learn. As women, of course we are unique individuals, and our approach to things is different. As I sailed through my career, I made sure I learned the trade as fast as I could and from the best. Where I had doubts, I never hesitated to ask my superiors and even the junior staff.
” When It was time to recruit staff, I recruited mainly young women, because what I found out along the way is young people are adaptable to changes, they learn fast and they will voice out their opinions. I always respect their opinions, and together we work on solutions for the way forward. Young people may not come with a wealth of experience but most are willing to learn and succeed, so they deserve to get a chance to prove themselves. My two assistant managers are dynamic women and their support is invaluable. I can confidently say that I have created a young, strong, and energetic team who do their work with passion, positive energy, and work independently, with minimum supervision. With all that said, I have no regrets about changing my career paths.”
“On both a personal and professional level, I have been through a lot of deceitful and hard moments, some very unpleasant and painful. I am grateful for these moments as they have moulded me into who I am today. I have become a strong woman, wife, mother, and I would like to think I am a strong leader too. My journey has been trying but rewarding.
“Change is very important if your current situation is holding you back or making you unhappy. You might not be able to make the change you want now, but the time will eventually come. I never regretted the journey of change I embarked on 23 years ago because along the way I met some wonderful people, a great mentor, and today I am a better person.”
” My tenacity and will to succeed is thanks to my mother. She has been my greatest inspiration and still is. She became a widow at the age of 31 years and I was only 6, my brother 7, and my sister 11. She raised us single-handed, and we have turned out to be good citizens. Being a teacher, she was a strong person and she did not hesitate to instil in us the value of working hard, which I have in turn passed on to my own children. We are a strong family unit, and we always have each other’s back irrespective of our differences and issues. I adore my mum for her courage and determination. Her love for us has always been unconditional, sometimes she can be overprotective. Soon to be 78, she is still the anchor of our family and always helping out with her grandchildren.”
And a powerful message for Cosmocreole readers from Murline—”Never hold on to what brings you down. I never look at the dark side of things as I believe, whatever dark hole you might find yourself in, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. As a Christian, I just hold on to my faith and trust the ONE above.”
Four tips to Successfully Navigate your Career Change
1. Remember whatever setbacks you come across in your new job, you will have to approach them with professionalism. Your job doesn’t define you! While your professional identity might change, your fundamental identity won’t. You’re still you.
2. Never, ever let “lack of qualifications” hold you back. There are always going to be people smarter than you and more qualified in a new field. Keep your focus on what you do have, what you can offer, and ask questions. You will be amazed at how far your past experience and intuition will take you.
3. If you want to succeed in your career change, don’t be afraid to access everyone in your network! All too often women are afraid of asking for help. ASK for that help, usually, most people you have met and worked with through the years are more than willing to part with their wisdom. They can give you guidance and mentor you through the new challenges.
4. Making the choice to seize control over your career path requires a leap of faith. It requires you to say to yourself, I don’t know that this will work, but I’m going to try. However, getting family support on such a journey is also a catalyst for your growth because they already believe in you.