Is your life your own?

WebsiteIs your life built on your dreams or the expectations of others?

Today, I have decided to share the philosophies and thought processes that allowed me to build myself a life defined by challenges, excitement and fulfilment. I hope that by sharing these defining chapters of my life, I can help others to have the courage and determination to realise their own dreams.

I began my working life as a structural engineer in France, after six long, hard years of study. The work was fulfilling, and I knew that the industry would offer me a long and prosperous career.

However, as time progressed, I became increasingly aware of the quiet unhappiness that so many people experience in the workplace. There are far too many people who live their working lives devoid of passion and ambition, with no vision for their future in a company.

I dreamed of having a job where I could help people to transform their working lives by igniting their passions and giving them ownership over their futures. However, my limited perception of reality soon set in and I told myself that such a job might not exist and that I would be foolish to throw my engineering education away chasing an abstract dream. I never abandoned my dream, but I was unable to see a way forward.

About a year down the line, my colleagues and I attended a team building workshop with a management consultant and, all of a sudden, I felt as though my eyes had been opened to a new world of possibility. The consultant was engaging, dynamic and charismatic. Clearly blessed with a talent for reading people, he used his abilities to help us resolve issues that had been plaguing our team.

In short, he improved the way that we lived our working lives. I realised that this was the job I had been dreaming of, and on that day I decided that I wanted to be a management consultant.

I quickly realised that to make my newfound dream a reality, I would need to pursue an MBA. With my third child just six months old, the timing could not possibly have been worse.

I was close to giving up, but I knew that there was never going to be a convenient time to return to study. I decided then and there that I had to create the change that I wanted in my life, and I have never looked back.

Two years on, I gradated from my MBA program and landed a job as a senior consultant with Renault Nissan. I had never been happier. I felt that I was born to be a consultant. I loved what I was doing and my skills and personal attributes saw me excel on my assignments.

I thought that I had it made: I had a happy family life and a career that I loved. Then, one day, I asked my husband Claude for a favour and my whole world was turned upside down.

I had been working on a new process for my consulting engagements that was designed to help executives create a vision for the future of their companies. The process involved asking many questions in rapid succession in order to open up spontaneous lines of thinking that were not constrained by anxiety and fear. Claude agreed to help me test the process, and one of my colleagues set about asking him a series of rapid questions:

Questioner: It is nine in the morning, the 12th August 2006, where are you?

Claude: I am in my office

Questioner: Can you describe your office?

Claude: It is a nice office with a big window

Questioner: What do you see by the window?

Claude: The sea

Questioner: Where are you?

Claude: In Australia

Claude turned to me asked what I thought about moving to Australia, and in defiance of all logic, I said yes. We did not known any Australians, nor had either of us ever been to Australia. Our English was basic and we had three young children to think of. In spite of all the obstacles, our desire to immigrate to Australia grew stronger every day.

My friends and family were confused at best and alarmed at worst. I struggled to articulate the strength of emotions I was experiencing. I felt as though there was an enormous weight on my shoulders that would only be lifted if I reached Australia. Every single step that we had to take to rebuild our lives in Australia was challenging: the visa applications, overcoming the language barrier, finding new jobs and resettling our children. We were tempted to give up more times than I can count, but every time we fought to keep our dream alive.

Twelve years on, I cannot imagine having any other life. I have started my own management consultancy firm, I love Australia, and my family could not be happier.

My decision to share these experiences with you stemmed from my desire to encourage people to realise that with the right combination of perseverance and hope, their dreams can turn to reality.


1. Create your dream: Work to envisage the life that you truly want to live without succumbing to fear of failure or folding to the expectations of others.

2. Never abandon hope: Even if you realise that your dream may not be possible you need to hold on to your hope. It may not happen exactly the way that you imagined it, but if you refuse to abandon hope, your dream will come into contact with your reality and become an inspiring, yet achievable, vision.

3. Perseverance: No dream worth having is going to come easy, and you will need to put in the hard work and sacrifices to make it your reality.

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