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Career Change Success Story: Konstantina Sakellariou

 

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Sharing the unusual journey of a girl like any other, speaking to Konstantina was such a breath of fresh air. Konstantina comes with a 20-year corporate experience, having always at heart an affinity for the beauty of the human nature, and for the revolving strands of creativity, be they individual or collective. She has worked extensively in the professional services sector (with emphasis on human talent), the banking and the governmental sectors, acquiring several executive positions or participating in various entrepreneurial initiatives. She has been involved in projects on life-long learning and informal education, on youth development and on international business expansion. Her corporate background helped her hone her communication and writing skills and her frequent traveling instilled in her a deep understanding of cultural differences and diversity. 


She continues to hike, write and explore, determined to live a life of consciousness and creativity. Let’s get to know her inspiring story.

 

Tell me a bit about yourself, personally and professionally. What makes you unique?

Thank you Samia for the opportunity to share my story with you and other like-minded people.

I am originally Greek, but I have spent the last eight years in Dubai. After a 20-year corporate career as a senior executive in various services sectors, I decided to make a radical change. This change did not come fast, and the purpose was not clear from the very beginning. I went on a one-year sabbatical which allowed me the time and space to define my priorities and understand better who I truly am. Now, I am mainly a writer (my first book “The Unusual Journeys of a Girl Like Any Other” was published in June 2016 – www.myunusualjourneys.com/books/), and one can follow my travelogue through my site www.myunusualjourneys.com. Also, I lead, in collaboration with Rahhalah Explorers (www.rahhalah.com) a few trips per year for people who are interested in personal transformation through an adventure journey. Finally, I act occasionally as a speaker and a mentor, raising awareness about the importance of creating our own story.

 

You talk about a specific moment of spiritual awakening which completely transformed your life and career. When did it happen and how did it change your life?

It is rather hard to narrow life down to one pivotal moment: what might be the “call to adventure.” The most obvious such moment for me has been my hike on Mt Kilimanjaro. For some reason, while on the mountain, facing the challenge of the summit day, I was forced to look into the mirror and ask the question “who am I”; coming down, I decided I had to change my life completely. I quit my job, sold my shares in the company, and took a sabbatical year to explore my next steps – actually, dive deeper into myself.

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However, a subtler but much more profound pivotal moment was when I started writing my first book. This did not happen based on a plan, a strategy, or even a business idea. It came as a manifestation of a need. It was the moment I realized that I can discover myself through the words, the way we all discover ourselves through stories. This was the time I understood I was a writer, and I should keep writing for the rest of my life.

What are the most positive aspects of your new-found career?

My new career is quite diverse. This allows me to live in creativity, which is invigorating. I go with the flow, avoiding strict schedules that might be ineffective. I connect with people at a deeper level, touching on their own creativity and personal stories. I am fulfilled.

 

What are some of the challenges that keep you on your toes?

The most important task for me – the only thing that I would allow to “keep me on my toes” – is maintaining my authenticity and a high level of creativity. I keep on learning and getting inspired by other people, other projects, by nature, by life itself. This is my main focus.

On the practical side, I am setting up a new business which means that I navigate myself through the various available options in order to determine what suits me best, making sure that it is sustainable and meaningful. This is a journey on its own, and I am enjoying it, the way I enjoy the challenges and the uncertainty of a hiking trip. The process and the learnings are quite similar, after all.

 

What advice do you have for other millennials venturing into new career paths?

Be courageous and create your own story. Our lives are a movie we have the opportunity to direct, produce, and star in. There is always risk, for nothing was ever created without some level of uncertainty. But there should never be fear. Be focused: everything that we do must fall into a theme, otherwise, our film will be incoherent – just a series of disconnected scenes. The sooner we understand this, the easier it gets. Be loyal to who you choose to be. Only then can your story be authentic, only then can it resonate with others.

 

A lot of people struggle to find enough support when they venture into an unchartered territory – what or who has been your biggest support?

The biggest support came (and still comes) from within. If my intention – or my need to live life differently – was not strong enough, nothing would have ever happened. I am the one who decides on the change, I am the one who creates it. It is true that, in such cases, support is rare, because it is difficult for others to understand and back something outside the trodden path. There are occasional moments of loneliness. But this change in life or career is never about others, nor is it about our conformity to other people’s opinions and expectations. It is about ourselves.

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On a practical side, an experienced coach or an enlightened mentor can assist significantly. I was supported by my mentor who helped me understand some of the most undecipherable signs along the journey. Gradually, other people came into my life – people who were of a kindred mindset – and this inspired me further, giving me more faith and support for any next step.

 

How do you define success? What are you personally most proud of?

14682163_310861099283111_4270835497975180566_oI am proud of the fact that I did find the courage to make some radical changes in my life. Even now, I sometimes wonder how did I ever make the decision – and, yet, at that moment, the answer was very clear: it was not even a matter of making any decision.

Along the way, I am happy I have remained truthful to myself. In two years, I have achieved many things that not only are important for me, but they are also a story, a legacy to keep beyond my own limited being. I am proud of the people I have met along the way, the friendships and connections I made, the inspiration I gave and I received. I am happy and grateful I live such a fulfilling life.

 

 

How has your new life shaped the dreams of your future? Where do you see yourself a few years from now?

This is very difficult to answer. Things have changed so fast and so radically over the past 24 months that I cannot even imagine where I will be in the future – not even the near future. There are several writing projects under way, and new ideas keep on coming. There are also several traveling projects getting organized. But, in general, I prefer not to make too many plans. I am sure life will surprise me with things I could never think of. So, why limit myself?

 

Finally, what are the top 3 skills that have helped you succeed as you made this career change?

  1. Strength of intention: it allows me to be persistent even when there is no clarity
  2. Flexibility: it allows me to go with the flow, when things do not turn out the way I thought they would. It also allows me to bounce back to balance – the starting point of every new step.
  3. Authenticity: maintaining loyalty to myself proved to be the most difficult part, since it is often regarded as an act of selfishness, and many people (especially people who love us) try to influence us one way or another. Still, this was a point I did not negotiate, and, thankfully, I was assisted to learn how raise up the proper boundaries to protect the new person I was (and still am) becoming.

 

About the Author:

Samia helps millennials to know who they really are, and achieve what they are capable of. She is the founder of Direction Dose – Career and Business coaching for millennials. She’s an ICF certified career coach, NLP Practitioner, writer and speaker, based in Dubai. Having over 9 years of experience at Procter & Gamble in brand management and coaching; Samia knows what it takes for Gen Y to excel and succeed in their careers.

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