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Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career

This title shows how successful career changers turn fantasy into reality. Whether as a daydream or a spoken desire, nearly all of us have entertained the notion of reinventing ourselves. Feeling unfulfilled, burned out, or just plain unhappy with what we're doing, we long to make that leap into the unknown. But we also hold on, white-knuckled, to the years of time and effort we've invested in our current profession.In this powerful book, Herminia Ibarra presents a new model for career reinvention that flies in the face of everything we've learned from "career experts". While common wisdom holds that we must first know what we want to do before we can act, Ibarra argues that this advice is backward. Knowing, she says, is the result of doing and experimenting.

Career transition is not a straight path toward some predetermined identity, but a crooked journey along which we try on a host of "possible selves" we might become. Based on her in-depth research on professionals and managers in transition, Ibarra outlines an active process of career reinvention that leverages three ways of "working identity": experimenting with new professional activities, interacting in new networks of people, and making sense of what is happening to us in light of emerging possibilities.Through engrossing stories - from a literature professor turned stockbroker to an investment banker turned novelist - Ibarra reveals a set of guidelines that all successful reinventions share. She explores specific ways that hopeful career changers of any background can: explore possible selves; craft and execute 'identity experiments'; create 'small wins' that keep momentum going; survive the rocky period between career identities; connect with role models and mentors who can ease the transition; make time for reflection - without missing out on windows of opportunity; decide when to abandon the old path in order to follow the new; and arrange new events into a coherent story of who we are becoming. A call to the dreamer in each of us, "Working Identity" explores the process for crafting a more fulfilling future. Where we end up may surprise us. Herminia Ibarra is Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.

From Publishers Weekly
Aimed at mid-career professionals who have invested much in careers that may no longer fully satisfy, Ibarra's book challenges the traditional belief that a meticulous assessment of one's skills and interests will automatically lead one to discover the right job. In reality, she argues, "doing comes first, knowing second." This is not to say that a marketing director should abruptly resign to become a modern dancer; instead, defining the arc of the future is a "never-ending process of putting ourselves through a set of knowable steps that creates and reveals our possible selves." Most people will navigate a career shift at some point in their lives, and in this smart, positive guide, organizational behavior professor Ibarra shares the stories of 23 people who did it successfully. It's no 10-point plan for figuring it all out, Ibarra says, but rather a well-reasoned guide to making the decision of whether or not to stay in a career or move on. Readers who study the stories and their accompanying analyses will take away some valuable lessons on changing their way of thinking and being, going out on a limb, and building in a much-needed "transition period" during a career shift.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap
"Herminia Ibarra has written one of the year’s most important business books. Sophisticated and savvy, it challenges much of the conventional wisdom about how and why people change careers—and illuminates the experimentation, struggle, and joy that are essential to the process. For professionals contemplating a career change, Working Identity is essential reading."  Daniel H. Pink, author of Free Agent Nation

"Through countless stories that inspire because they come so close to our own, Ibarra provides a world-shifting breakthrough in how we can go about refining our lives and changing our careers. She has given us long-awaited, enormously practical, and deeply insightful wisdom about the improvisational nature of our selves and our professional development." Ronald A. Heifetz, Cofounder, The Center for Public Leadership, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government and coauthor of Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through the Dangers of Leading

"Career and life transitions are as certain as death and taxes, and we are prone to face them with the same fear and anxiety. Working Identity affords us the courage of common sense. Ibarra's in-depth research and sharp insights show that successful transitions occur one step at a time, by trial and error, experimentation, and incremental experience." Randy Komisar, Virtual CEO and author of The Monk and the Riddle

"Working Identity is one of those rare and wonderful books that combines deep knowledge drawn from careful research with practical ideas that can be put to immediate use. The book’s message of hope and possibility—that it is possible to reinvent careers and lives—should be embraced by everyone thinking about transitions in today’s turbulent world." Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School, author of World Class and Evolve: Succeeding in the Digital Culture of Tomorrow

About the Author
Herminia Ibarra is Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Harvard Business School and Visiting Professor of Business Administration at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.

Curtea Veche - Printing House for Romanian version.


  • Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career - HART ConsultingWorking Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career - HART Consulting
Magdalena Vrajitoru, RBS Romania
We have been developed and run with HART Consulting several assessment and development centers during 2007 and 2008. These projects goals were: Assessment of the managerial competencies for retail and corporate banking employees Selection for career progression (promotion) HART Consulting used different customized exercises, adapted to each profile of competencies. HART has conducted
Samson Gabriela, Dr. Reddys Laboratories Romania
An interactive, constructive and practical course. Trainer`s attitude is to be acclaimed. I'm sure I will get the best results if I will apply what I learned during this course.
Anca Knieling, Dr. Reddys Laboratories Romania
Actual and specific to the activity I perform.
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