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90 Days Ago I Left Google To Work For A Bank: Here’s What I Learned

Source | LinkedIn : By Ita O’Sullivan

“Ah so you learned to drive in a Ferrari” that’s what a new colleague said to me when I explained that I had joined Google straight after university.  This sentence echoed in my head, when in the months after that conversation; I got an offer to leave Google.  Deciding to leave Google was hard, really hard but I’m really glad I did. Here’s what I learned when I handed back the keys to the Ferrari.

Lesson 1: Great Isn’t Always Enough

Google is constantly named the best company to work for. And I think Google deserves those awards. Let’s be clear: I said goodbye to something I loved, not something I hated. And it was mutual. Google looked after me. They always gave me a strong package: a super competitive salary, every perk you could name and even a swimming pool! I also left behind a super-talented team: we were set up to succeed and we looked out for one another. In other words I walked away from a great job.

A great job wasn’t enough to make me happy. My work life balance sucked.  No matter how hard you try if you work in Ireland for a California based company you cannot avoid some late nights and some travel, in my case many late nights and much travel. I became a bad friend and partner. I never made 7pm spin or mid-week drinks. I spent many Sundays on the plane to San Francisco and when I come back at 11am the next Saturday I would be tired and cranky. Over time, these patterns really began to negatively impact my life. I was in San Francisco last year when my grandfather had a huge stroke. My manager was amazing, he did everything he could to help me but at that moment in my life I felt more powerless than I have ever done. I was too far away from my family at a moment when I needed to be close to them.

Ironically, a fantastic Google based training called ‘Search Inside Yourself’ (now a book and separate organization) helped me realise that my work and what makes me happy in life were mismatched.  It gave me the mindfulness to see that what made me happy was an awful lot more than job satisfaction. My job was great, but it wasn’t enough.

Lesson 2: The Right Role Can Be In The Most Unexpected Of Companies

If you told me a year ago, that I would be working for a bank, I would have laughed at you. I would have told you that I was a product manager, I liked tech and startups and those really weren’t things I associated with a bank. I do now. My narrow view of what the right company for me was could have resulted in me missing a great opportunity to work on the things I really like to work on. I got lucky, this role came to me. I’m not sure I would have found it. This is why platforms like Linkedin and Twitter and the good old fashioned drink coffee with your network technique are activities that should not be neglected.

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