From Opera Singer to Management Consultant | Careershifters

What work were you doing previously?

I was a professional Opera Singer performing in the UK, France and other European countries since I graduated, for about seven years. 

What are you doing now?

I am now a Management Consultant and work for one of the world’s top consulting firms, Deloitte. 

Why did you change?

A mixture of circumstances.

At the time I was struggling with my health and the pressure of performing. I was suffering from anxiety that was largely due to the performer lifestyle that just didn’t suit me well. 

While I loved singing and being on stage, the rest of the career attributes were far less enjoyable and were affecting me in a negative way. There was little certainty about the future and my health constantly failed me. 

When was the moment you decided to make the change?

It got to the point where I made a tough call to cancel my upcoming contracts and performance, and take a break. 

The idea was to take time to recover through rest, therapy, and also additional singing training. It was embarrassing and I felt like a failure, but I just couldn’t go on. 

I lost almost six months of pay and had no job prospects – I was quickly replaced by other performers and since I was self-employed, I had no sick pay either. 

With bills needing to be paid, I started looking for ANY jobs, including dish washing. 

How did you choose your new career?

Over the period of three months I applied to 90 jobs, and was rejected from all of them. 

To be able to afford rent, I did part-time catering staff through some people I knew, but there were no possibilities to turn that into a stable income unfortunately.

I was desperate and started applying for jobs like “dish washing” where the only criteria required was to be over 16 and have the right to work in the UK. 

Weeks later, I ran into someone I knew, who asked me how my singing was going. I told them that I’d stopped for now and that I was looking for work. They recommended I reach out to someone they knew in the business world.

I did and after some internal wrestling with myself, decided to apply for a graduate position in customer services (I was convinced I won’t be able to get it, as I had no relevant education or experience, so almost talked myself out of it!). 

It was huge mindset shift to recognise that my skills were transferable and that I simply needed to change the narrative, or the way I tell the story of my career. 

I got the job! But it was only the beginning of my corporate journey….

Are you happy with the change?

I never thought I’d find another passion, and I’m grateful I did.

My current job brings me much joy and fulfilment. I love problem solving, collaboration and the creativity this job allows me to exercise. 

It also gives me the stability and peace that I was lacking in my previous career. 

What do you miss and what don’t you miss?

The only thing I’d say I miss is the travel.

It was wonderful to rehearse in some of the most beautiful cities around Europe.

But the sense of insecurity, anxiety and fear of future is something I don’t miss. 

How did you go about making the shift?

While customer services was supposed to be temporary solution, I fell in love with the corporate world.

I discovered new talents and developed several passion areas. In three years I grew from customer services associate to Strategy Consultant.

I did a quick diploma in HR during covid (while working full time) which helped me fill some of the gaps in my knowledge and sparked interest in change management. 

After that I decided to broader my consulting portfolio and transitioned to Deloitte to work as a Management Consultant, specialising in change management.

How did you develop (or transfer) the skills you needed for your new role?

Throughout all changes the key was curiosity and continuous learning, which I think gave my employers the ability to trust me with the responsibilities.

I did a lot of reading (books and online), I asked questions, I practiced and said yes to opportunities. There are so many wonderful resources out there (LinkedIn learning, Udemy, free stuff you find on google, ChatGPT). 

I also found myself a mentor in the area I was interested in and that really helped too. 

How did you handle your finances to make your shift possible?

I was left without any income abruptly, so I did some temporary jobs just to get by during my job search. 

I also had some savings.

What help did you get?  

I sought mentorship and used networking. 

I also had friends who were rooting for me. Who you surround yourself is so important. You need honest feedback, but you also need someone having faith in you when you don’t have any faith in yourself.

What have you learnt in the process?

We are capable of so much more than we know.

Our degrees and our previous experience don’t have to limit us. 

Also, I learnt the power of networking. People are genuinely keen to help and I just had to get over myself and ask.

What do you wish you’d done differently?

I wish I’d changed careers sooner! 

But all in its due time I suppose. 

What would you advise others to do in the same situation?

I would encourage them to go for it.

Give it a go, try things out. People often wait to discover this new “purpose” or “calling” before they make a move (there is nothing wrong with that!). But I’d recommend stepping out and trying different things. Who knows, you might stumble upon your next big dream!

What lessons could you take from Laura’s story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.

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