Corporate Career Change

Christelle Pillot talks her career change from Engineering to Life Coaching

For me, what is also incredibly important, and it is also one of my biggest motivations is to set a good example for my children. I don't want them to stay in a career that doesn't suit them, just because it is well paid. I wanted to teach them to follow their dreams and to live a good life, full of meaning and accomplishment. The only way to teach them that is to do it myself.

Burnout is an occupational phenomenon

The World Health Organisation has included burnout in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon. The definition of burnout is described as “A syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.

Burnout is characterized by three dimensions:

· Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;

·Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job;

· Reduced professional efficacy.

According to Gallup’s recent report, Employee Burnout: Causes and Cures, 76% of employees reported feeling burnout at least sometimes, while 28% declared to feel burn out often or always.

There is a common misinterpretation that the main cause of burnout is in the number of hours worked; the survey reported instead, that the real causes are others and more specifically:

1. Unfair treatment at work

2. Unmanageable workload

3. Unclear communication from managers

4. Lack of manager support

5. Unreasonable time pressure

The truth is if people enjoy their work, feel supported and motivated, they are also going to be more productive.

From Engineering to Life Coaching after burnout

Christelle Pillot, experienced burnout during her fifteen years career as an International Sales Manager in Engineering; “I had the impression that the work I was doing was useless. So, a useless job in a harmful environment. I felt drained and tied”. The burnout led her to go back to her real passion, Psychology and Personal Development, something she has discarded at a younger age in favour of a degree in Chemical Engineering. After continuing her job part-time, she also decided to get a Life Coach and Trainer certification before opening her business in 2016. She finally completed her career transition from engineering to life coaching in 2018 when she quitted her job.


What is your educational background?

I wanted to study Psychology, but someone told me that there would be no future for me if I were going to choose that field. So I ended up studying Chemical Engineering to assure me a good job and a good salary. I did it without feeling too passionate about it.

The importance of foreign languages

How many languages do you speak?

I speak three languages – French, English and German – and I can understand Spanish. Learning Spanish was a mutual deal with my husband. I thoroughly enjoyed my intensive year studying it.

Initially, I learned English and German at school. Later, I improved my English by studying it on my own and by travelling. German instead is the native language of my husband, and I lived in Germany, so this is how I learnt it. I do practice these languages daily, so I am definitely a polyglot! I speak French and English at work, German with my husband and French with my children.

On another side, my husband French knowledge level hasn’t improved that much!

What difference has the knowledge of these languages made in your life? Did it have an impact on the way you think?

This is an interesting question. As part of my job, I have been teaching children and teenagers mindfulness and emotional intelligence. A European private school asked me to develop a course to help children improving their focus.

I have just finished recording the course in different languages: German, English and French. It is striking to see how each one of these languages can impact the emotional narrative of the story. In German, it may sound colder compared to other languages; in English, it sounds cheerful, and in French, I can make more jokes. It seems that I have a different character for each language, but that is not the case. This is a clear example of how a mentality shapes a language or vice versa. It also shows how each of us is subject to the influence of our environment.

The course is going to be available for other children in August and will be called: “Happy and Focused”. It is teaching attention, emotional balance, and a positive mindset to children between 6 and 12 years old.

Childhood dreams

Which job did you want to do when you were a child? Did you do it?

I remember going to public speaking seminars with my parents and dreaming of being on stage. Another dream was traveling the world. I have done the travelling part, and now I am focusing more and more on the public speaking.

My first job in Engineering

What was your first job?

After studying Chemical Engineering, I got a job as an International Sales Manager. It happened by chance; I didn’t really search for it. The good thing was that I went into technical sales, and fortunately, there were many aspects of that job that were falling into the psychological realm. And as I mentioned earlier on, my dream was to study Psychology. So, I believe that that may have helped to make my first job more enjoyable.

Feeling drained and tired

How was your experience as an International Sales Manager?

I was a Sales and Distributors Manager for 15 years. My job was based in Germany, but I was travelling the world, supporting my distributors and clients, selling machines and consumables for the pharmaceutical and chemical industries.

Being immersed in different cultures was fantastic; the human connection was interesting and rewarding. That allowed me to learn a lot about people and myself.

I did not like the corporate cultures that I have been in contact with and the injustices that I could notice within the companies. (very often, it’s not the most deserving who wins, but the noisiest). I didn’t like the lack of recognition of good workers. And above all, I had the impression that the work I was doing was useless. So, a pointless job in a harmful environment. I felt drained and tied.

Burnout took me back to my passion

What actions did you take after starting thinking about transitioning from engineering to life coaching?

In 2014, close to burn out, I decided to go back to my passion, which is Psychology and Personal Development. I continued with my job part-time, and I studied to get a Life Coach and Trainer certification. I started my business as Potential & Growth Coaching – Training in 2016 but it took me two years to complete my transition from engineering to life coaching and quit completely my job.

Helping busy parents to live a better life

My mission is helping busy mums and dads to build a life aligned with their values and their life mission, while creating a stable and peaceful environment at home, something that can seem easier said than done!

When working with parents, I focus on these three aspects: Their individuality, their work and their family.

My approach helps them to:

– Gain a stronger sense of themselves

– Focus on their careers, adjusting/identifying their goals or looking at their true vocation

– Focus on their family and on how to build a team at home.

The final aim is for parents to gain joy, peace, fulfillment, and energy and overall a sense of freedom.

Using transferable skills to transition from engineering to life coaching

What life and transferable skills have you learned from your first job as an International Sales Manager in Engineering?

My first job taught me how to sell and do marketing. It is not the same to sell for yourself as for an employer, but I was not afraid of this task, which is already enormous. I was also used to speaking in public and making presentations.

My work has made me very rigorous; this facet helps me today.

It took me four years to define what I wanted

How and when did you start thinking about changing career?

After my first pregnancy, I thought seriously about changing my career. But The change came just before the pregnancy of my third child. It means it took me four years to define what I wanted and how to do it.

What challenges did you have to overcome to start your new career?

The first challenge was to understand what I wanted. The second was to redefine my new career (and how to build my own business and still have enough money coming home every month), and the third was to find balance in the family.

I had to build my project, go against my husband’s resistance, and at the same time, learn to lift my self-confidence and my abilities.

The highlights of my job

What are the highlights and lowlights of your job?

I love helping parents to recapture their freedom.

With my help they can discover what matters for them, redefine their career and build a strong team with their partner and kids.

The highlights are when they have the results they were looking for, when I can see them growing and becoming the person they are meant to be, when they can build the fulfilled life they always dreamed of.

I love as well to feel that it is my business, and I am free to do what I want, exactly how I want it to be. There is a place for creativity, room of improvement and flexibility.

The lowlights of my job…. I suppose it is all the administrative tasks and the marketing/ sales strategy to put in place. I like this aspect too, but it might be very overwhelming.

What is your typical day?

I don’t really have a typical day; every day is different. But every evening, I schedule the next coming day. For me, efficiency is a keyword.

My day starts between 5 and 6:30 am.

I dedicate some time to do some work, or I do my morning routine (meditation, yoga, writing, reading).

Between 7:30 – 8:30 am I drive the kids to school. I pick them up between 4 and 6 pm.

6-8 pm is family time. Sometimes I work during the evening (client sessions mostly).

I spend my days doing marketing strategies, preparing or attending courses and running online or face-to-face client sessions.

Project for the future

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I see myself doing the same thing but on a larger scale. I am planning to build my academy and to be supported by a fabulous team of coaches and business people.

Why do you think changing a career is a good thing?

To make a career change, you have to ask yourself what you are looking for; this process is probably going to help you find out who you are and what you want. You have to ask yourself – what makes me vibrate? Take time to question look at your weaknesses, strengths and limiting beliefs.

For me, what is also incredibly important, and it is also one of my biggest motivations is to set a good example for my children. I don’t want them to stay in a career that doesn’t suit them, just because it is well paid. I wanted to teach them to follow their dreams and to live a good life, full of meaning and accomplishment. The only way to teach them that is to do it myself.

Dealing with Covid19 as an online business

Has your career been impacted by the coronavirus?

Because I have always run my business online, the Corona crisis has not had a negative impact on my business. I would even tend to say that my audience – the parents – suffered particularly from this situation and came to seek help.

Anything else you would like to add with our readers after sharing the story of your transition from engineering to life coaching?

At the beginning of my career change journey, I made a mistake to isolate myself with my project without asking for help. I managed to overcome all the challenges but, the overall career change could have been much faster, easier and fun if I would have been part of a community or if I dared to find a coach that could support me. That is what I finally did, after two years of solo and painful work. So, I learned that asking for help is not a weakness but a great form of intelligence.

Did you enjoy “Christelle Pillot talks her career change from Engineering to Life Coaching”? If you are looking for inspiration about career change, read more stories from the career changers.

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