University of South Carolina :: Darla Moore School of Business   the Competitive Edge

Presenter: Jenny Blake


Helping people pivot their careers from one to the next career change is what the author is most passionate about and what will be discussed in detail in the succeeding parts of this video. As Jenny says, "change is the only constant, so let's get good at it."

Jenny shares her first experience pivoting from her current job at a startup company managing AdWords accounts to doing AdWords training for clients at Google. She then pivoted to career development within Google where she helped create and launch a global career coaching program. This is how she was able to help Google retain employees as the company grew from 6,000 to 36,000 and while the company is so focused on hiring the best.

She believes that everyone goes through the same experience of pivoting or getting pivoted at various points in lives. Rather than thinking or saying that one is going through what they call mid-life or quarter-life crisis, she wants to help these people manage going through change the right way. To be able to make the process more straightforward.

In the next sections, she presents a framework called the Pivot Method which is a four-stage process to seamlessly handle what's next in your career.


The Pivot method is a four-stage process as follows:

  • Stage 1 – PLANT
  • Stage 2 – SCAN
  • Stage 3 – PILOT
  • Stage 4 – LAUNCH

  • Stage 1- PLANT

  • The Plant stage is a critical part in the pivot method. It is the source of stability and foundation. This is presented by Jenny with a sports analogy: When a basketball player stops dribbling, it is when his one foot becomes firmly planted and he starts scanning for passing options. This is the stage where if you are going through pivot points in your careers, you should start thinking about what is already working for you. What your strengths and values are and then you create that vision of what and where you want to be in the next 6 months or 1 year. It is best to set short-term timelines as you would easily know what you want to do next based on your current experiences. The following are Plant-stage questions to guide you through career transitions and determine next steps:

    • What are you currently enjoying?
    • What's working best for you?
    • What do people come for you for advice the most?
    • What types of classes are you enjoying? For those in business school or just finished business school.
    • What types of job roles in the past have you enjoyed the most?
    • What are you most excited about?
    • What got you here?
    • What do success look like a year from now?
    • How much do you want to earn?
    • What type of environment do you want to be in?
    • Do you want to start a business?

  • For more information, refer to Once the Plant stage work is done, move to the next stage, Scan.

  • Stage 2 – SCAN

  • Now that you have established what you know, what you want, and where you want to end up, you are able to bridge the gap between the two. In this stage, you are now starting to scan for people, skills and projects that are aligned to what you have identified in the Plant stage.

    • People – Connect with people whom you admire and can talk to. These are people whom you can learn from. He/she could be a supervisor, peer, mentor, etc. People whom you can meet with to conduct career research.

    • Skills/Interests – These could be new learnings and or upskilling. What you want to be expert at. Skills that interest you and help in your growth. This will help you get a role in a company where you want to end up.

  • Stage 3 – PILOT

  • Pilot is about testing the waters of the new direction through small experiments. A good pilot will help you identify three things:

    • Are you enjoying this area?
    • Can you become an expert at it?
    • Is there room to expand?

  • As an example, you are currently doing an internship with a company and doing some consulting work on the side. You should identify and ask these questions: Do I enjoy the work?; can you be expert at it?; and is there room for me to expand and go full time while still doing consulting work? Can I start my own consulting practice while still being a student/alumni?

    There could be different pilots going on in parallel for you. It could be you are in school; while doing other pilots such as interviewing for a job, attending some info sessions, wanting to start a business, etc. It would help if you can identify which one has more momentum.

    Sometimes your financial situation plays an important role in a career pivot. When you already know what you want and where you want to end up, you find yourself in a situation where you must do something in the middle of the pilot like getting another job to help get you to where you want to go.

    There are also bigger pilots that can be done to get you to your vision faster (6 months to a year). Some people try different pilots and later on decide which one gets you more traction and will work for you the best. The pilot process should be repeated.

  • Stage 4 LAUNCH

  • The launch stage is where you give your all into this new direction. It's the stage where you make an educated and confident decision.

    Through the pivot process, it prepares you to be ready in each stage and helps you become clear as to what you really want before you even get to the launch stage. It helps reduce the risk of uncertainty.

    There is no certainty though that you will not go through pivot again after you launch because as you make a shift, new information will give you a new perspective in terms of your career plans.

    There are two (2) launch questions to ask to help get you in the right direction:

    • What is one small step you can take in the next week?
    • What is one next step would make the biggest impact?

  • Conclusion

  • What attracts you to taking an MBA is planning but uncertainties happen during the course of your career journey. It is important to be flexible, nimble and keep an open mind. One of the best things in life happen when we don't plan meticulously. Plan your next move, learn and adjust.

    We should know that uncertainties and fear are ok, in fact, one of the best things about pivoting/career transition is the surprise. Use this as an opportunity to do better. As long as you know what you want and where you want to end up, follow the method and you will be on the right track.

    The author will leave you with the saying from David Whyte - "That which you can plan is too small for you to live."

    For more resources to explore, you may access Jenny's website which contains the Pivot toolkit, podcasts, coaching materials and book: