Nonna's story: Finding more meaningful work


Nonna completed the Career Change Accelerator in Spring 2018. Formerly in the banking industry, shes now an innovation consultant in the insurance industry working for a social enterprise. 

What were you up to before Escape?

At first, my choice of career in the UK was limited to where I could get a work visa. So I landed in the banking industry in London and spent five years there. I made my peace with this path and did what I could to get as varied experience as possible, working in project management, customer experience and learning & development roles. Looking back, I can see that I was searching for the most creative, dynamic roles and most interesting people within a large organisation. This was the first insight into what floats my boat…I just wasn’t paying much attention to that then.

How did the Escape programme help you?

Too much choice is actually as hard as having no choice at all. When I became visa independent, I found myself frozen as to what I want to do next. I came to Escape with one big question: what would I do with my career if money and prior experience didn’t matter?

Escape taught me to chase my curiosities. As time went on, I started pursuing my interests without judgement and expanding my horizons. Escape also gave me license to experiment, to go against the grain, and alongside a community who are on the same path. It became a “new normal”. 

Another important lesson was that of “future truths”: not letting the fear of being a beginner stop you from exploring a new direction.  I took small but consistent steps to build knowledge, forge relationships, join the conversation and start before I felt ready, and voila! It becomes your second skin before you know it…

I made great friends at Escape, with whom I have travelled, had meaningful conversations and still keep in touch with 2 years after our shared Escape experience.

And what happened after you finished the programme?

One of the post-it notes I had stuck to my wall during the Escape programme said “innovation consulting”. It seemed a far-fetched idea at a time. I realised that I am captivated by entrepreneurs, their ideas and energy, and their high tolerance for risk to make things happen. I volunteered at the Escape Startup Accelerator, offering my help and enthusiasm whilst I built connections and learnt along the way. I was also curious about the future and trends that will shape our world. I have attended various events, built my knowledge and joined conversation.

It all came together when I found myself at an interview with Lloyd’s of London, pitching for a job to help set up and run their new Innovation Lab. I was asked to share my views on singularity. An old version of me would have had no clue. But just a few days before, I had attended FutureFest in Tobacco Docks where I discovered this concept. I got the job and singlehandedly broke into innovation and insurance, two completely new areas for me. I have worked at the Lloyd’s Lab for one year taking part in many projects that expanded my horizons when it comes to technology and entrepreneurship and I met many interesting, colourful characters along the way. 

As I learnt at Escape and experienced first-hand at Lloyds, you are truly an average of the five people you spend the most time with. I have learned from entrepreneurs how to hustle authentically, pivot and always look out for opportunities. Re-inventing myself has become second nature.

I surprised everyone, especially myself, when I left my great job at Lloyds and joined one of the startups I had met there as their angel investor and advisor. During this transition, a friend I met during my Escape programme helped me to negotiate my investment and future involvement. You see how everything is interconnected?

Then I then spent six months freelancing, travelling, networking and enjoying the headspace to ponder what was it that I wanted to do next. I went back to Escape notes and started my next career transition…

I am now an innovation consultant, as per the post-it note I had on my wall! I have stepped away from the corporate world and joined a small but very ambitious team working with insurers to help them innovate and lead the way disrupting the industry. My new company, Ninety Consulting, is also a social enterprise: ninety percent of profits are distributed to social projects in Africa. It is a steep learning curve, but I am feeling very fulfilled knowing that I will learn a lot from my new role as much as from my new colleagues for whom I have a lot of respect for. It is an exciting time for the insurance industry as the pandemic serves as a reset button when it comes to innovation.

If I were to give one piece of advice…

I have learnt that change is the only constant. I learned to smile when opening new doors and to savour the highs and lows of the career change journey. It can be tricky to be in the messy middle, pulling at random strands without a clear view of the end game, but it all beautifully connects over time.   

If you are interested in insurance and/or innovation consulting, Nonna would be happy to have a chat on her LinkedIn.

  • If you’d like to learn more about the Career Change Accelerator, and how you can join us to figure out your next career direction, take a look at this
  • Explore a range of roles at socially impactful organisations on our job board.

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