From Founder to Product Design – Ben Macandrews

Coaching helped build the patience and determination to succeed in my career change, despite the massive uphill challenge that lay ahead of me at the time.

From Founder to Product Design – Ben Macandrews

“What work were you doing before your career change?

I started my career following a passion for cooking, I worked as a chef in restaurants before deciding to launch my own businesses. I started a street food business called Laffa, catering at festivals, weddings and markets across London and the South of England. After that I ran a meal delivery startup PEP Kitchen, selling healthy plant based dishes and meal kits.

What made you reach out for coaching in the first place?

Unfortunately PEP Kitchen didn’t work out financially and we had to close the business. I found myself at a loss as to my next steps, lacking the appetite to start another business or return to work in the hospitality sector. My time as an entrepreneur running small businesses meant I had a broad, shallow set of skills and an eclectic CV. I knew I wanted to start a new career but lacked the confidence or direction to go it alone.

Describe your experience of coaching. (What results, insights or learnings did you get from the coaching?)

I gained a lot of confidence during my experience of coaching with Chloë. I learnt to reframe my position, which was shrouded in negativity at the start of the process. My broad set of skills could be a strength, I had far more options than I thought existed. I learnt to entertain careers that I didn’t even know existed and got really excited about the process. Coaching helped build the patience and determination to succeed in my career change, despite the massive uphill challenge that lay ahead of me at the time.

What new path did you choose and why did you choose it?

I explored many ideas and decided that Product Design was the right path for me. I had a good amount of transferable skills, having run an e-commerce website and done all of the design in my businesses from marketing materials to packaging. I was really excited by the idea of working in tech, of having the opportunity to work in fast paced startups and build products alongside engineers. I was able to close the skill gap with self paced learning and build up enough work for a portfolio website.

How did you actually make the change? What was the process?

The start of the process really began with talking to as many people as I could about their careers, companies and sectors. Chloë really challenged me on this and the experience was invaluable. I was able to learn how friends and contacts had started their careers, about the nuances of different fields and industries, what I thought would suit my skills and nature and just as importantly what wouldn’t. After commiting down one path, I put all my energy into building my portfolio and being really particular about careful, high quality job applications.

What were the best and most challenging parts of your career change?

The process of applying for jobs required a substantial amount of resilience and patience. That was a challenge staying positive and motivated. I was really fortunate to find a high growth tech startup with one of their values being “”entrepreneurship””. They particularly wanted people who could show entrepreneurial qualities and valued attitude over experience. The interview went really well and I’ve been happily working with them for almost a year.

How is your new path going?

Great! I’m really happy to have made the change, I’m working in an exciting company with a great team of people. I get to enjoy lots of the things I enjoyed from running businesses – problem solving, teamwork and creativity. It’s been daunting but really invigorating jumping into a new sector and new role and having so much to learn. It does feel strange to be “”junior”” all over again but I have that added life experience to guide me.

What advice would you give someone who is also thinking of changing careers?

Allow yourself to entertain some new career ideas without immediately shutting them down “”I couldn’t possibly do…””. Go and talk to people in those roles and industries and learn as much as you can, see if you can dip your toe into something new. You don’t need to quit your job tomorrow to do all of that, there’s no risk and it may lead to something really exciting. If you don’t feel confident or know how to do any of that, get some coaching – it really helped and ultimately accelerated my career change.”