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From a corporation to conservation

Escapee Lola has put her escape plan into action this year and handed in her notice in November. She is leaving the UK for Netherlands and hopes to apply her marketing skills in sustainability sector. Working her notice period, she came across an org announcement for a colleague in Brasil, Elisa, who escaped the same corporate job to a job in conservation. Inspired by this example, Lola felt compelled to reach out and talk to Elisa about her escape journey.

Before the escape

Throughout my career I always worked in business development and marketing, but I have been in many different industries, nothing was really planned, but opportunities came and one thing lead to another.

I started my career in new business development in a consumer electronic company in Brazil that had joint ventures with major global players like Nokia, JVC, LG. One new business we were prospecting was Internet TV, so I ended up being hired by AOL, as they were entering the Brazilian market at the time. I spent 6 years with them working in Latin America and then moved to their headquarters in US.

After the first Internet bubble burst, I had an opportunity in the entertainment/ hospitality business working with a chain of high end boutique hotels. For personal reasons I decided to move back to Brazil, my home country, and I started my own business, a publishing company focused on yoga and well being products, which had a great start, but I invested all of my savings and needed a source of income while my business was getting traction. This is when I went back to the corporate America.

My moment of truth

In general, my observation is that, with few exceptions, people in the corporate world are there for the wrong reasons. They normally don’t enjoy or believe in the work they are doing, the majority is there for a paycheck and feeling of safety that having a job brings, believing that happiness comes from climbing the corporate ladder.

After a while, I felt so empty inside, and depressed. I did not enjoy my life anymore. I went on a long self discovery journey, looking for what would motivate me to wake up every morning, a sense of purpose, get my mojo and my priorities back on track.

So I did not have a moment per se, rather a long process of self discovery, asking some tough questions, searching for what is really important to me, what motivates me, what makes me happy and what I believe in. I did everything from coaching, anthroposophy based activities, family constellations, traditional and untraditional therapy.

My escape

I am leaving my corporate job for a marketing role with The Nature Conservancy where I will be focused on corporate partnerships to promote their brand and create corporate source of revenue to advance their conservation mission.

I have been looking, more or less, for the last 4 years, however the right opportunity never seemed to appear. Then there was this ad on LinkedIn, the role felt right and everything just fell into place after I applied. The rest is history.

Planning for it

I am not making the same salary I used to. And I am fine with it. I had to adjust my lifestyle. I went back to basics. I learned to value things that are truly important in life. I focused on cutting down my costs, eg started looking out for deals, etc. Anyone can do it.

Change is never without adaptations. However the thing is after you find your path, you have this absolute best feeling in the world of knowing that you are putting your energy into something you really believe in, that you are moving towards your life’s goal. And this overshadows any concerns.

The toughest part is finding out what your beliefs are, what you want from life, defining the goal. They say you have to “follow your bliss” to be happy, but figuring out what your bliss is actually is the hardest part, at least it was for me. Once you do find the right direction, you will know it because it will feel like you’ve got the whole universe on your side and things just fall into place. And then there is no better place in the world to be in! You are happy.

How to find ‘your bliss’

For me, it was never just about the career development. I always wondered about my life direction in general. So finding my bliss was not a straightforward exercise. I tried everything – therapy, coaching, I did a course at Artemisia, an NGO focused on promotion of social business, and I tried non traditional therapy and meditation.

It’s all very individual, for me there was no silver bullet, different methods, approaches contributed something which led me to a deeper understanding of how things are connected and what direction to pursue.

What’s next

This is of course not the end of my journey. I think the search never ends. But I am on the right track, I know what it is I am after and what I want, and so I am relaxed, having fun and enjoying the ride.