Courtesy of Yanet Borrego
- Yanet Borrego is a full-time career coach who used to work as an engineer at ExxonMobil.
- To make the transition, she reinvented herself and developed coaching skills on the job.
- She knew she was ready to become self-employed when she had an established client base.
I spent seven years at ExxonMobil and two years at Accenture before quitting my corporate career in 2021 to pursue my passion and become a full-time career coach. Even though the actual transition to self-employment happened in a week, I had been balancing both a nine-to-five and my own business for eight years.
My mom and I immigrated to the US from Cuba when I was 12 years old. After settling in Puerto Rico because we had family there, I earned a chemical-engineering degree, interned at Marathon Oil and ExxonMobil, and was recruited to become a process engineer at ExxonMobil’s Texas headquarters. At that moment in my life, I thought, “I made it! We made it!”
But within a year, I realized that it wasn’t fulfilling me. Even though I appeared successful and was making six figures a year, something inside me was missing. I decided to face the lack of clarity head-on and dig deeper into the long-term vision of who I wanted to be. I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
Today, I work with driven, professional women aged 25 to 45 who are successful but looking for purpose and fulfillment. I also run a newsletter, podcast, and digital course. One-on-one coaching is my most lucrative income stream, followed by my digital course. My podcast and newsletter are free, but they give me the chance to connect with potential clients.
I’ve experienced many benefits since my transition to entrepreneurship. The first is flexibility with hours and work location. Last year, I spent three weeks in Hawaii for a personal-development workshop, and I took all my coaching calls from there. I work about the same number of hours each day that I did in my corporate roles, but I am in charge of my own schedule.
I also experience immediate impact from my work, and I receive immediate feedback. I get to launch services and products and directly see the transformation it has on my clients. The feedback is helpful to refine my offerings.
These are the three steps that prepared me for the transition from corporate work to full-time entrepreneurship.
I embraced the mentality that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself
I had spent almost a quarter of my life studying and practicing chemical engineering when I realized that it didn’t make me happy. I must admit, I had doubts and fears about reinventing myself.
So I started by asking the simple question: “Who do I want to be?” My answer was very straightforward: I want to be happy, fulfilled, and a firm believer that my career impacts the world for the better. This led me to the next question, “What do I have to do to be this person?”
Then I surrounded myself with people who were on a similar journey. I went to personal-development trainings to meet like-minded people, and my first training was Tony Robbins’ “Unleash the Power Within.” In 2015, I invested in the John Maxwell Team certification to become a leadership coach, and I attended many more mindset trainings after these.
It felt very empowering to know that I could lead people to trust in themselves and their resourcefulness to figure things out. I fell in love with the profession and knew I wanted to coach people to align their careers with what truly lights them up and find a way to generate income from their passions.
I used the job I already had to build crucial skills and find clients
Once I had clarity about my goal, I defined the list of skills I needed to be a better coach, and all of them had to do with personal development and behavioral changes, or understanding the human mind and how can we change habitual thinking to produce different results.
To leverage my full-time job at the time, I looked within ExxonMobil for opportunities to further develop those skills. I was very drawn to the supply-chain part of the business, because I could practice developing relationships with global suppliers and negotiating contracts. I made the case to a supervisor in the supply-chain division and to my manager in the refining division that I could use my skills in both departments since they were already interconnected. I had the technical experience and people skills to add value to the supply-chain department and optimize the relationship with the refining division. It was an internal loan first, which then became a full internal transfer.
The environment within the supply-chain team allowed me to give talks about mindfulness, behavioral change, inclusion and diversity, and similar topics that were aligned with my interest in coaching. Giving safety updates before each meeting was already a corporate practice, so I volunteered to do those. From there, I branched out into giving wellness and diversity and inclusion talks, and then incorporated mindfulness into my wellness talks. Different teams heard about what I was doing, and I was asked to give a talk to 200 interns starting at the ExxonMobil Campus.
After spending five years as a senior manager, I was ready for the next challenge. Consulting seemed to be the next clear step because of its emphasis on client service, the focus on people development, and the highly entrepreneurial work dynamic. I realized there were a few people I knew from ExxonMobil who had transitioned to Accenture, so I reached out to two of them, and I was referred. I received a call a few weeks later that started the interview process, and I ended up getting an offer. After researching Accenture, I connected with the company’s emphasis on the “truly human” element. I did meet with BCG, and I researched other consulting firms, but I didn’t see the human element I was looking for.
I loved my time in consulting. The environment allowed me to be even more transparent about what I was passionate about. Being authentic and expressing my aspirations in a corporate setting landed me my first paid-coaching client —a coworker I met through diversity and inclusivity initiatives. This is when my side-coaching business started blooming.
I allowed myself to let go of the security of a corporate salary
I decided to quit my job after a family member passed away. I didn’t hate where I was at Accenture, but it was a wake-up call for me to be 100% committed to my dream. I had a foundation built for my business, and it made sense to take the leap of faith.
My desire to create an impact and fulfill my purpose as a full-time career coach was greater than the security offered by my corporate job. I had established a base of paid clients and referrals while working in corporate, and I had a pretty good idea of my coaching structure, so I took the leap. I had enough savings to meet my basic needs while growing my business.
I was earning $160,000 at Accenture before I quit, and my goal is to keep growing my business to eventually exceed my former salary.