The other day, I was asked by a client to try and find one of his former colleagues, a CTO who he rated as outstanding, believing that he would be perfect as his new number two in a large organisation. The best we could do however was to establish that this ‘perfect’ candidate was on sabbatical somewhere. That somewhere turned out to be the Bahamas which was a pit-stop as part of an around the world year off sailing trip with his family. “That’s that then!” we said to our client and we turned our attention to finding other suitably qualified and normally domiciled executives who we could persuade to come forward for the opportunity.

Curious as I am (or is it plain jealousy?) it caused me to reflect on what we are finding as head hunters is a growing trend of C level executives who are just taking off in their mid-career to do something different for a while. To qualify this, I am not referring to the very many good people who are on the wrong side of an organisational re-structure or plain downsizing event (they don’t need to justify taking time out to reflect and re-group) but more, the rising or fully risen stars who are seemingly becoming increasingly confident to take a break, down tools, reboot etc. A straw poll of the Odgers Berndtson database quickly confirms that there is something of a trend going on here and being of a certain age and conservative by nature, my immediate reaction to this new cadre of mature ‘gap year’ types is that they might well be drawing stumps on their otherwise impressive careers. Or are they?

I’ve spoken to some clients whose opinions I value and whilst most of them are envious, none thought it material and certainly not damaging to one’s good profile and that they would not think any less of these folk when they turn up for interview in a few months-time (wearing a big smile and sun tan no doubt). In fact, (although not statistically proven I will concede) the new fit, healthy, de-toxed and rebooted person might just have the edge on a short list not least because they are keen to start immediately.

But what about being current and up to date where developments and trends are concerned? Is that an issue? Not at all to be frank since not that much really changes in a year anyway and besides, it’s not hard to be online on a yacht these days (apparently)!

So are there any real downsides to taking that career break you have always dreamed about but never had the guts to do anything about? Not really it would appear other than having the ‘monkey on your back’ of needing to get a job when you are back. However, the timing might be good too; the economy and employment market heading seemingly in the right direction. And by the way, as head-hunters, we will love you when you are back because you are still the same very good person you were when you left, and you are now immediately available and keen to attend interviews. You will also come across with renewed vigour and yes, everyone will want to hear about the trip!

You really are only on the planet once - Bon voyage!

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Alan Mumby

Alan Mumby is a Partner and Head of the Global CIO & IT Transformation Group. The Group houses Partners with current and relevant technology expertise from each major continent. Alan's early career...

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