18.05.2016 : Sarah Hoffman

Finding your work passion

Looking back is not something we often do. But sometimes it’s what you need to do to find your work passion.

Looking back is not something we often do. In our fast-paced world the emphasis is almost always on looking forward, what’s next, what else, and moving from goal to goal. But when I recently received the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ) Emerging Leader of the Year Award it made me stop. And for the past few months I’ve been reflecting on my career path, work passion and what I have achieved.

It made me think about where I was five years ago… I was working as a legal executive, managing a conveyance practice for a Partner at a law firm. If I had continued on that career path where would I be now? Would I have achieved what I have to date? Would I be as satisfied in my role as I am now?

Changing jobs, industries and careers is becoming increasingly common. It seems to be a phenomenon that’s rise has coincided with Gen Y entering the workforce.
So why is today’s workforce more likely to change career paths than they were 20 years ago?

An article published by Statistics New Zealand in 2011 stated that half of those earning a wage or salary would have been in their present job for less than 18 months, with workers aged over forty having a much lower turnover rate than younger workers.

Thirty years ago when my parents were my age, loyalty and tenure to your employer were highly valued traits. People took pride in staying with the same company for their entire career and they were rewarded with stability and job security from their employer. While these traits are still very much valued by employers today, the rate of change within our environment has meant the drivers for employees have begun to change.

In an increasing ‘plugged in environment’ the line between work and life is continuing to dissolve. When you factor in how we spend over half our life at work, more and more people are choosing to change jobs, industries or even start new careers. Simply to work in a role that enables them to do what they are passionate about. In Deloittes’ annual Global Human Capital Trends 2015 Report, more than twice as many employees are motivated by work passion than by pay.

As I was reflecting on my career path, I realised my work passion begun when I took a sabbatical to work with the Salvation Army in Fiji. It was a humbling experience; working at an outreach centre in Suva for women and their children who had left their partners or husbands due to domestic violence.

It was a huge change from my legal executive days. Instead I was developing training programmes to help up-skill the women so they could find employment to support their families and build a new life. It involved one-on-one coaching, seeking to understand what these women wanted to achieve, what fears were holding them back, and how I could help them prepare for independence and success.

It was here in Fiji, away from my home and family and working in a role that challenged me both professionally and personally, that I realised I was the most fulfilled and satisfied that I had ever been in my working career. When I returned home I knew I wanted to change careers and work in a role that enabled me to feel the same satisfaction and fulfilment I had felt in Fiji. My problem was I still wasn’t sure what I had to offer people.

I have always been close with my Mum and I remember calling her and asking her, “What do you get from me that you don’t get from anyone else?” Her answer was, “You always help me to be at my best.” A few months later I was enrolled to go back and study, and begin a new career in human resources.

Finding my work passion and changing careers has enabled me to find a role that plays to my strengths, gives me a huge amount of satisfaction and has allowed me to achieve what I have to date.

Looking around at Beca it is clear to see we are a company that is full of passionate people who are driven by a great satisfaction for what we do, how we add value and how we serve our professions, industries and communities. I am proud to say I work for a company where you can play to your strengths, and are encouraged and given opportunities to incorporate your passions into your work.

Not everyone needs to travel to another part of the world to find their work passion. You can start right now. I challenge everyone to take a few moments to reflect on why you do what you do, and how your passions influence your work.

You can start by asking yourselves a few simple questions such as:

  • What do your friends/family get from you that they don’t get from others?
  • What part of your role do you enjoy most?
  • Think of a time when you felt really satisfied… what were you doing?
  • Who do you look up to? Who are your mentors? Who inspires you? Why?

Share your findings with those around you. You never know, you might help someone else find their work passion.

About the Author

Sarah Hoffman

People & Culture - Business Partner

Sarah has nine years’ experience working within a professional services environment. She specialises in coaching and advising leadership teams on how to develop and implement business and people strategies.

Ignite Your Thinking

What Do You Think?

Sarah Hoffman · 30/05/2016 4:06:19 p.m.
Thanks Ian, I agree we are lucky to work for an organisation that is full of passionately people and that is what makes Beca's culture so unique. Its important that we continue to talk about what we are passionate about and how this shapes our work as others learn a lot from this.

Garth Cann · 25/05/2016 3:09:53 p.m.
Great thoughts on finding your direction in Life and achieving your goals . Passion for what you do and finding a work/life balance .

Ian Macbeth · 20/05/2016 12:16:41 p.m.
Great article, Sarah - I completely agree about the need for passion in work. And we're lucky enough to see it every day in the people we work with- right from the most senior to those just embarking on their working careers.