A career change can be a scary prospect. Changing careers can mean that you are swapping your experience and status in one industry to move into a new industry where you may have to start at the bottom. Changing your specialism can mean undertaking expensive retraining and tightening the family purse strings for months or years. However, as Winston Churchill once said: "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often". To improve your quality of life, or to simply make you happier in your work, change may be the only option. What really helps, however, is having a supportive employer behind you that will invest in you and your dreams.
Associate Nan Erb spent 18 years in the telecommunications industry as a sales and marketing professional.
"In 2008, after my husband and I completed a 'post-Ivan' building project, I found myself in a state of early retirement and at a bit of an intellectual loss. I wasn't ready for retirement but at the same time my objective wasn't to start down the path of creating a new career for myself. I had always wanted to go back to school and so in 2009 I thought I would push myself by studying at the Truman Bodden Law School to see if I had an aptitude for law."
"There were two moments which stood out as game changers for me; the first was the evening that I met Ingrid Pierce, Walkers' Global Managing Partner. It was on the occasion of my graduation from Law School when Ingrid stepped out in front of me and presented her card. She was the most dynamic lawyer whom I had ever encountered; a person who clearly loves her job and the entire team with whom she works. The second was my first interview with Walkers' Training Committee members. I thought that being a lawyer may mean that I would no longer get to be the easy going, fun natured person that I am. The Training Committee completely changed my perception of what lawyers are like (in a good way) which only led me to want to become one even more."
Partner David Collins was a Certified Public Accountant in the audit practice of KPMG, auditing banks and investment funds.
"I wanted a career that would allow me to interact with clients more, and bring me into direct contact with the global financial services market. I could see that a career in law would enable me to add value for clients and help them solve problems. I trained at Walkers and have had a great deal of support from colleagues over the years which helped me develop as a professional. I'm particularly proud to now be in a position to share my experiences with our sponsored students and articled clerks, and to support their development and progression within the firm. Without the career change I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do that. "
In a previous life, associate Laetitia Bush was an entomologist, a scientist who specialises in the study of insects. She gained an MSc and PhD in this field and practiced her profession in Brazil and the UK before coming to Cayman to work in mosquito control for the Mosquito Research and Control Unit.
"Once Cayman became my long-term home I knew that my career opportunities in entomology would be limited. I had learnt in my working life to date that I wanted two components in a new career - challenge and structure – and law certainly seemed to tick those boxes. I started at Walkers just after I was called to the Cayman Islands Bar. I have to say Walkers has an excellent programme for newly qualified lawyers. Walkers has also afforded me the opportunity to go on secondment to the London office, which I think is going to be an incredible experience on a professional (and personal) level."
Kaye Bodden was a compliance director at Walkers, however after five years in the role she realised that her passions lay elsewhere. It was time for a change.
"Before Walkers, when I went to college to do my banking diploma, one of my first classes was accounting. I knew from that first class that I was interested in it and after five years in compliance my mind returned to that experience. I felt so supported by Walkers! Walkers created a position for me in Finance Support and paid for me to go back to school to complete my degree in accounting. Now I love my job and am passionate about it. The hard work and dedication paid off as it has resulted in me becoming Head of Treasury Operations."
How does Walkers support career change?
We actively develop talent of tomorrow
At Walkers we offer scholarships and time off to our staff who want to study whilst a Walkers employee. This may be for progression to the next rung of the ladder or it may be to change their job role into something that really resonates with them. Walkers employees have received funding to study finance, accounting, advanced human resources management, Microsoft certifications, IT networking and programming and many other subjects.
We value and promote diversity
Walkers is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of background, ethnicity, gender or age and we value diverse experiences and careers. Current Walkers legal and professional staff have had careers as accountants, bankers, policemen, teachers, journalists, business owners, realtors and many other vocations. We have supported staff joining Walkers in their 20s and their 50s. We have had staff who joined as secretaries and later became financial controllers; we have had receptionists become business development managers; we have had office assistants become paralegals. If you have the talent to succeed at Walkers you will succeed and Walkers will be there to help you on your journey.
We create global opportunities
Working for a global law firm like Walkers requires a global mind-set. As such we provide secondment and transfer opportunities to other offices of the firm for our Caymanian lawyers and support staff. Currently we have Caymanians on secondments in Ireland, London, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore and the BVI. Enabling our Caymanian employees to experience other cities and other cultures helps individuals to decide on their careers and carve out their own niche in the world.
What advice do Walkers employees have for those that are thinking about taking the leap?
Kaye Bodden: "Always follow your passion and it is never too late to make a change to become a better self."
Nan Erb: "You can always change the present which may just change the future. Step outside your comfort zone - the view is amazing!"
Laetitia Bush: "You have to choose a career that feeds into your strengths. Take every opportunity you can to identify what your strengths are, in order to make an informed decision."
David Collins: "Be open minded about change and embrace it. Don't fear change – there is opportunity in every situation."
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