Aug 2008

Topping off a successful career

For some executives at the top of their career, it is not always easy to move on, but success can be enriched in more than one way.

Many people grow up having some sort of ideals for a better world... And then life happens. Financial wants, family responsibilities, career ambitions, et cetera take priority and those ideals got de-prioritised. These ideals are not forgotten completely. Once in a while, opportunities present themselves to live out these ideals, although not everyone has the courage to go for it.

CEO of a multi-billion dollar UK-based company, Richard Harvey, went for it. He set out to live and do volunteer work for a year in Africa, accompanied by his wife. (*) He went to apply his management skills to help create sustainable solutions for real world challenges that many poor Africans face. Other executives may think this is just an identity crisis, a season that will eventually go away. But that is missing the point.

Many people are at least as wealthy and as successful as Mr. Harvey, but very few do what he did. There is no benchmark on how much money one needs to have nor what career one should have had to qualify. For many successful executives, loss of income for a year or two is not a financial concern. The smart ones have saved enough in their financial coffers to retire whenever they want to.

No, it is not about money. It is about state of mind. It is about fear of the unknown. It is about family support. It is about feeling secure in oneself to not worry what others might think. (Usually very positive, by the way.) Mr. Harvey was secure enough, financially, and successful enough, career-wise, that he could move his life in a totally different direction to pursue a more fulfilled life.

Those who would follow Mr. Harvey's lead, may find their minds expanded and their perspectives enriched, such that when they decide to go back to the corporate world, they will have the edge over other executives. Not to mention that it will round up their curriculum vitae / resumes and make for an interesting interview discussions.

*) https://www.aviva.com/newsroom/news-releases/2007/06/city-ceo-makes-surprise-choice-for-gap-year-in-africa-3294/

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