After 38 Years With Deloitte, I’m Changing Careers

By Pankaj Khandelwal
In Career
May 31st, 2015

After 38 Years With Deloitte, I'm Changing Careers

After 38 years with one company, I’m making a dramatic career change.

When we’re very young, all things — and all careers — seem possible. When I was a kid, my peers wanted to be astronauts, or firemen, or baseball stars. I wanted to be a math teacher. (I’ll admit, it may not sound exciting to most, but I really loved numbers!)

Dreams are easy and so interchangeable when we’re young. But as John Lennon put it: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” As we get more established in life and in our careers, it can seem harder and harder to consider a career change… no matter how badly you still want to pursue your lifelong ambition of launching your own tech startup or writing a hit TV comedy.

I didn’t grow up and become a teacher. I studied accounting and law, and joined Haskins & Sells (now known as Deloitte) after graduation. And I’ve spent my entire career with the same organization, albeit in different roles, from serving clients, leading various teams and offices, to U.S. CEO and finally Deloitte Global CEO. This May, I’ll finish my term as Deloitte Global CEO and retire from the Deloitte organization.

Deloitte has been my life for 38 years, and I’ve absolutely no regrets. It has been an amazing journey. But I’m by no means ready for retirement.

In fact, I don’t even play golf. Retirement was a very different proposition for previous generations, who expected to finish work at 60 and live another 5 or 10 years in comfort and quiet. Thanks to a healthy living and medical advances, many of us won’t depart from this world until we’re in our 80s or 90s. These extra years and decades are a gift, and present a unique opportunity to go after our dreams.

Retirement was a very different proposition for previous generations.

For the past several years as my retirement approached, I’ve been planning my move from business to academia. This year, when I retire from Deloitte, I’ll join the full-time teaching faculty at Columbia Business School in New York. You see, even after all this time, I still want to be a teacher. That dream never went away. I want to spend my time talking to young people, and helping shape their minds. I want the buzz of an engaged classroom, of passionate academic debate.

Even after all this time, I still want to be a teacher.

I’m sharing my personal experience as part of the LinkedIn Influencer “I Quit” series because I believe it’s never too late to change the course of your career. Maybe you never got to pursue your dream job, or maybe you’ve loved your career so far but want something different in the future. Making the transition successfully comes down to passion and preparation.

Be passionate

At all stages in your life, work hard to nurture what you’re most passionate about. Never let that go — even when everyday life and responsibilities compete for your time and attention. Find ways to continuously learn and develop. Be the first to say “yes!” to any opportunity to contribute. You never know where these might take you.

Throughout my career, I’ve devoted my time and resources to organizations who share my passion for education, including College Summit, United Way Worldwide,YMCA and my alma mater Brooklyn Law School.

I’ve helped in whatever way I could be most useful — from mentoring kids, to serving on boards, to helping non-profits operate more efficiently. This work was, of course, hugely fulfilling personally. But when I look back now, I realize that it also helped hone my skills and experience for an eventual full-time career in the education sector.

Be the first to say “YES!” to any opportunity to contribute.

Be prepared

Being an adult and having responsibilities means that it’s unrealistic to think you can quit your job one day on a whim. So come up with a long-term plan. Will your move, take 2 years? 5 years? Even 10 years? Can you transfer existing skills, or will you need to retrain? What changes will you need to make to relieve financial pressures?

Having a plan is motivating in itself. It helps bring a dream into focus through tangible and realistic steps. Author of ‘The Little Prince’ Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

For me personally, having a plan for my move into academia was not just about pragmatism. It made it easier to come to terms with my career at Deloitte ending, as I was reaching mandatory retirement age.

It’s also very important that you engage people to help you. Share your goal with your family, and seek their support. Find a mentor in the field in which you aspire to work. Make connections on social media. Join community organizations that share your passions. These connections, if nurtured properly, could help build the bridge to your dream career.

[A plan] helps bring a dream into focus through tangible and realistic steps.

It’s a very strange feeling – mostly exciting but also a little unsettling – to be standing at the edge of such a big change in my life. I hope that by sharing my personal story, you gain some insight into your own career journey – and your power to change its path whenever you choose.

So I want to know: what dreams have you carried from childhood through to adulthood? Have you ever made a major career change, and what advice do you have for others considering a similar move? Please add your voice to the conversation in the comments section below.

Barry Salzberg is the Global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. Click the ‘Follow’ link below to stay up to date with Barry’s LinkedIn Influencer content.

Please visit our website for more information about the Deloitte network.

This Post is written by Barry Salzberg after quitting delloite. The post was published on Linkedin

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