The CEO of an $18 billion consulting firm says if 'you can see your future' at work, you may not be in the right career

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julie sweetAccenture

  • Julie Sweet left the No. 1 law firm in the US in 2010 to work for the consulting firm Accenture, eventually becoming its CEO of North America.
  • She said she had become complacent and wanted a new challenge and opportunity to learn.
  • "If you can see your future, then you probably are not challenging yourself enough," she told The New York Times.

Switching careers is a difficult decision at any stage of your career.

It's even harder when the job you're leaving is at the No. 1 law firm in America.

But that's exactly what Julie Sweet did in 2010 when she left the law firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore, where she was a partner, to become general counsel for Accenture, a global consulting firm worth $18 billion.

Sweet told The New York Times' David Gelles that after 17 years at Cravath - America's most prestigious law firm, according to Vault - she had started to feel complacent. One day, she said, she took a call from a recruiter who said she had a 'great opportunity.'"

"I always look back and wonder: Why did I take the call? Why did I take the meeting?" Sweet told The Times. "I had two small kids. I was very successful. I could see my future."

She took the job, and within five years, she was the company's CEO of North America.

"It's about not wanting to be complacent, and wanting to continue to be challenged and learn," she told The Times. "It's this idea of if you can see your future, then you probably are not challenging yourself enough."

"I have this little plaque that my husband hung on our wall at home. It says, 'If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough.'"

Read more: Everyone wants to work at Google - but we found out how 15 ex-Googlers knew it was time to quit

Other experts have expressed similar sentiments. LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman said last year that he left a job early in his career after he found himself "drinking a lot of coffee just to stay interested."

"I need to feel challenged, that I'm learning on the job every day," he said. "Otherwise, I tend to lose focus."

Meanwhile, Lynn Taylor, a leadership coach and author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant," told Business Insider in 2016 that "if you're no longer challenged in your position and have tried communicating with your boss to no avail, this may be a sign that it's time to leave."

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