Following a successful and enjoyable early career, I made a big transition at work to a very senior finance role that I didn’t have any experience in. It was a great salary and seemed a good opportunity for career development, so I went for it. It was very demanding, with long hours and lots of travel, and I was under a lot of stress.
I’m a confident and resilient person, and I’ve always believed that if something isn’t working, you just work harder to overcome it. I was wrong!
About 5 years ago, I was at home on the weekend and suddenly became really distressed – I was crying and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I only found out later that what I’d experienced was a panic attack. My GP diagnosed me with depression and anxiety from stress. My workplace helpfully supported me with some CBT and I learnt some coping strategies from the therapist they sent me to. After a long break, I went back to work and all seemed well, but on reflection I should have made bigger changes.
A few years later, the anxiety and panic attacks came back and I needed to step away from work again. It was at that point that I realised that this career path was wrong for me and that I needed to make a big change.
I’d seen CABA adverts, so I looked at the website and thought it was excellent – there’s a lot of really helpful information on there. I got in touch to find out if they could help me with some employment advice and career guidance. When I first spoke to CABA, I could tell straightaway that I was speaking to someone skilled and experienced. I felt understood very quickly and I was so relieved that I’d put my hand up to ask for help.
I got some independent legal advice that was brief and to-the-point. They let me know exactly what my rights were and how to make the best of the situation. It meant I could go into discussions with my employer feeling confident and with a clear goal in mind. My employer was very understanding and we parted on good terms.
After that, I went on to a number of sessions with a CABA career coach over a 3 month period. I now realise that I went into it with quite romantic ideals about what I wanted, including a dream of working for myself and setting up my own consulting business. The coach was rigorous in drilling down into what running a business and winning clients would involve, and how I would go about running a consultancy like that. This process made me realise that being a sole trader like that wasn’t what I needed at that point in my career. I like to be very autonomous, but collaboration is also important to me. I realised I wanted something more team and relationship based.
The coach also helped me work through what I didn’t enjoy about my last role and what I should be doing moving forward. I realised that most of my career had been spent in an advisory capacity which I really enjoyed and I’d only moved into a mainstream finance role in order to progress up through the firm, but this meant working with a never-ending cycle of figures that I didn’t find interesting or motivating. Without a CABA coach, I think I would have been floundering for a long time, pursuing the wrong roles for me.
After this I was determined to find the right fit. I’ve since joined a small professional services firm where I work in a close-knit, nimble team. I’m a partner, so I get all the rewards of being self-employed as well as part of a team. Thanks to CABA’s guidance, I’m doing relationship based, advisory work that I find exhilarating and I’m good at. The big picture change is that my work-life balance is much improved, and I can enjoy my family life a lot more. CABA were there when I really needed them, and they delivered for me.
How CABA can help
CABA supports the wellbeing of past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and their spouses, partners and children up to the age of 25. For advice, information and support please: