Reinvention: Three useful tips when your career takes an unexpected turn

We recently invited industry colleague, Annabel Sullivan to write a special piece for our blog on reinvention. 

I’m not exactly sure when I realised working in the tourism industry was for me. I just knew when I finished my university degree that the only industry I wrote the “I’d like to join your company” letters were to tourism businesses. Fortunately for me one of the companies, The Queensland Tourist & Travel Corporation, as it was known then, called me in for an interview. And as they say- the rest is history.

I worked in the industry for over 25 years. Looking back, I worked for some great companies including, QTTC, P&O Australian Resorts, Voyages Hotels & Resorts and Brisbane Marketing, just to name a few where I held some fantastic roles. Throughout this my career progressed in an upward fashion, allowing me to take on bigger roles and responsibilities as the years rolled on.

My last full-time role in the tourism industry was with Brisbane Marketing. This role allowed me to fully optimise my experience whilst giving me opportunities to push myself in new areas and continue learning. I often recall acknowledging how much “I loved my job” and truly meaning it.

Then the unexpected happened.


I was made redundant.

What the hell was I going to do?

Considering I was too young to retire,  I really needed advice on this matter. The best piece of advice I received was to make a list of what I did and didn’t want from my next role. Resetting my goals, helped me have a clearer focus on my next step.

What I did learn through this process was that I didn’t want to jump back into a similar role in the industry, despite loving it. Rather, I wanted more flexibility, control and freedom to be able to do a variety of things whilst still tapping into my vast experience. Probably the most important aspect was to acquire new skills. From that moment on I decided that I wanted to become an expert at something else, but in order for me to achieve this I was going to have to reinvent myself professionally.

For anyone going through this reinvention, allow me to share three tips to help set you on the right path.

1.   Say YES and never say no

This became my new mantra through reinventing my career. I found by saying yes and being more open meant I was available to take up new opportunities, networks and experiences. I also found that I was continually challenging myself and on many occasions operating outside my comfort zone. I discovered vulnerability isn’t a bad thing, and can help with finding clarity and the support you need.

2.   Upskill, upskill, upskill

To become an expert at something else requires learning new skills. This has been one of the most rewarding outcomes of my reinvention. I’ve always been an advocate for professional development and what’s exciting about my upskilling now is that it aligns with my business. Upskilling is an ongoing priority and has become a major part of my everyday life.  I’ve completed certificates, attended courses and conferences, joined speciality groups and met with experts all to gain new skills.  

3.  Remember why you’re doing it

I recently came across that original list and goals that I had set a few years ago.


Finding that list was a significant reminder how important it is to remember your why. It’s particularly importantly to revisit your goals when you’re having a bad day - it can really help get you back on track. My advice however is don’t wait until you are having a bad day. Regularly checking in on yourself and reflecting will provide you the strength and direction to keep going.

Now, I am pleased to say I’m well on the way to achieving the reinvented career I wanted and becoming an expert at something else.

Reinventing your career and yourself takes commitment and isn’t something that happens without effort. There will be days where you wonder if it’s worth it. For me, what I’ve learnt, how I’ve grown and known this career is the one for me has kept me motivated and continues to keep me on this journey of reinvention.

About the author:

Annabel Sullivan wears a few different hats because variety is something she thrives on. Director at Strategic Social Profiles; Sessional Academic at The University of Queensland and Industry Consultant.

Her business Strategic Social Profiles combines her twenty-five year sales, marketing and management experience with her growing social media expertise to help people and businesses take advantage of the opportunities changing technologies offer them to build networks and achieve business outcomes.

Annabel will be speaking at the Power of People Conference at The Capital, Brisbane, Saturday, 13 May 2017 as part of a panel on reinventing yourself or your brand.