Successfully making an industry sector transition

Sometimes it’s a necessity, if you don’t want your business to miss out on a great opportunity. Sometimes it’s about taking on a challenge and expanding your horizons, and sometimes it’s just about wanting to try something new. Whatever the reason, a cross-sector move can be great for your long-term career prospects. It’s easier than changing career completely and it often lets you bring fresh talents into your new field. However, there can be challenges.

What makes the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t? You will need to be hard working, diligent and patient if you’re going to do well, but these six simple tips should help you on your way.

Six tips for a successful transition

  1. Understand how much you have to learn. You will need to immerse yourself in learning. Read the journals, take the courses, and never be shy of asking questions – even of juniors.

  2. Identify your mission and set your goals. Why are you moving to this sector? What do you hope to achieve there? Draw up a plan to help you realise your ambitions.

  3. Assess what you have to contribute. You will inevitably be caught by surprise when some of your skills don’t transfer, but others will do so well and could bring unexpected advantages to your new company.

  4. Follow the money. It’s vital to understand the financial principles underlying your new sector. They may be quite different from what you’re used to.

  5. Connect with the customer. Every sector has a different customer concept. The better you understand who the customers are and their needs, the better you can do your new job.

  6. Know the risks. This means not just the risks to your own career but also the risks you will be balancing for other people, because every sector has a different risk tolerance.

Success stories

You can also boost your chances of making a successful sector move by examining the cases of those who have done so in the past. For instance, Northern Powerhouse Developments chair Gavin Woodhouse initially developed his expertise in social care and went on to found care home provider MBI. Consequently, he found the skills he developed were equally valuable in the student accommodation and hotel sectors. He subsequently used his business skills to build up a presence in the media sector as chair of Stada media group.

Sometimes people take leaps you wouldn’t expect. Yang Fei of Jinxiang, China, became tired of working as a stock market real estate trader and transferred his market skills into the garlic business, where he’s now doing very comfortably indeed. Paul Alofs left success in the retail and entertainment industries behind to become president of the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, using his business skills to develop a non-profit success story.

No matter how you choose to make your move, the challenge of switching sectors will inspire you. It can be a great opportunity to boost your skills, broaden your outlook and recover that great feeling of working at something you love.

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