From Corporate Lawyer to Coach
I started my first job ever as a corporate associate at a prestigious law firm in New York. For some-one from Cape Town, South Africa who had always dreamed of being a lawyer it felt like I had already reached the pinnacle of my legal career. It was also an incredible experience to live in a foreign country and experience a different culture with lots of travel. After taking a bite out of the big apple for two years, I continued to work as a corporate lawyer in some of the top law firms in South Africa and Dublin. But as I progressed in my career, I felt that something was missing in addition to my career as a lawyer, and that there was more that I would like to do.
So, enter the slash careers or “slash” phase of my life. A “slash” or “slasher” is a person with multiple careers at one time such as “photographer slash actor” or “writer slash physiotherapist”. This concept of multiple careers at one time is apparently very popular amongst millennials and is a trend for the future world of work. Little did I know that I too, as a 30-something corporate lawyer, would be an early adopter as a “slasher”.
My “slash” experience began in 2012 with the formation of my own non-profit organisation, MissWrite, in Cape Town. MissWrite teaches creative writing to teenage girls from disadvantaged communities. It is a great project because it combines my love of writing and mentorship with a community outreach programme. I’ve been able to run it successfully as a side project and make a small but hopefully meaningful impact on the lives of the young girls who are part of the programme.
In 2017, I took the big, brave and terrifying step of starting my own business which includes legal and business consulting, compliance and training. So, I’ve added entrepreneur to my profile as I try to develop and grow my own business. It’s allowed me the flexibility to pursue my other interests as I try to make my legal career work for me. I’ve had some success but also a lot of setbacks and failures. But giving myself the room to try and fail has been one of the biggest learning curves and personal growth experiences of my life and I wouldn’t change it.
In the same year I started my personal blog kerrykopke.com where I share stories of my travels, activities and lifestyle hacks. The blog has been a great outlet for my creativity and passion for writing but at the same time has allowed me to connect with more people in different ways. The comments and support I have received from my blog have been incredibly encouraging and heart-warming.
But how did I get into coaching? After working with my own coach, I identified that my life purpose was to “create opportunities for others to forge their own paths and push limitations intellectually, with purpose and with a sense of adventure.” In many ways I am able to do this through MissWrite and through writing my blog but I feel that there is a more tangible way that I could be doing this. And so, after completing an on-line coaching certification course the next adventure to compound all of the slash confusion is that I have become a life and business coach.
With the advent of rapidly changing technology, the world of work as we know it and traditional career paths are changing. More importantly the definition of success has radically shifted from a universal concept to a very individualistic one. I am grateful for my studies and experience of being a corporate lawyer to give me a solid business and corporate background and the ability to support myself. I am so appreciative that I have also been able to engage in non-profit work and the world of blogging and social media to expand my horizons of possibility. I feel like I am forging my own unique path and challenging previously conceived ideas of how life and work is supposed to look.