I’m all for coffee catch-ups. If a friend or a contact says I should meet with someone, I simply do. We learn from everyone, every encounter – so the more the merrier!
I went on one of these catch-ups last week, pretty much like a blind date but business version. I only had a vague idea as to why my friend Victoria had suggested I meet with her. ‘Her’ was Tharani Jegatheeswaran, the Client Director heading up Deloitte Private’s Not-for-Profit specialist group, a consulting practise dedicated to servicing the needs of the NFP sector.
Our meeting started on a rather confusing note… I thanked her for taking the time to meet with me, to which she responded that she was always happy to meet with people interested in ‘shared value’*. Surprised, I said I wasn’t interested in the share market (oops! Two totally different concepts I managed to bundle into one!). She quickly realised she had mixed notes about who had referred me to her and we started from scratch with a laughter and an explanation as to who we were.
Tharani quit her job as an Audit Manager at Deloitte two years ago, soon to realise that the problem wasn’t the company she was working for, but the position she was in. She felt that strong calling of wanting to make a difference with her life (hmm… sounds familiar!).
She found the answer in a role she crafted to her own desire, but one that would also appeal to the business as a market opportunity. She went back to Deloitte and sold them the idea of creating a division servicing the not-for-profit sector of Australia. They supported it.
For the following two years, Tharani had to reinvent herself – from an auditor to a not-for-profit specialist. She had the passion, the ambition and the skills; she needed the knowledge. So she learnt.
Tharani shared with me some tips for giving one’s life a new direction:
- Be clear about the role that you would like to play and the skills you will need to succeed
- Do your research – learn from experts, read relevant articles, watch TED talks – immerse yourself in your craft
- Be relevant to the sector that you’re passionate about and ‘speak their language’
- Research organisations that you would like to work for and proactively target them
- Have a clear ‘value proposition’ that is premised on mutual benefit (a WIN-WIN)
- Tailor your LinkedIn profile to reflect what you want your personal/professional brand to stand for
- Network, network, network… but remember to always be authentic
- Do something a little risky every day to step outside of your comfort zone!
It takes a lot of self-confidence, courage, discipline, drive, self-awareness and passion to reinvent oneself. But if the outcome of following a calling rather than a career means happiness, fulfilment and a stronger society, then it’s worth all the sweat and tears…
Tharani did it and for that reason, she inspires me.
* ‘Shared value’, which Tharani explained to me, is actually a principle whereby businesses would create value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges – reconnecting business success with social progress… Now THAT is interesting!