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  • Writer's pictureRenata Bernarde

Reimagine Your Work

Episode 231 - A Harvard Expert Is Asking You to Reimagine Your Career and Your Relationship to Work

Christina Wallace is a veteran when it comes to following a diverse career path. Starting in the arts, she learned early on the necessity of juggling multiple roles - musician, theatre artist, and, later, various roles in theatre production. This experience laid the foundation for her career philosophy: versatility as a survival and success strategy.

In our conversation, she shared her insights on the emerging trend of leading a portfolio life and career. This interview unearthed valuable insights into how a diversified career path offers resilience in an unpredictable job market and caters to the multifaceted aspirations of today’s professionals.

As the job market evolves, employees and employers are re-evaluating their values and purposes. The concept of a single, lifelong career is becoming increasingly obsolete, replaced by a multifaceted approach to professional life. This approach aligns well with today’s dynamic job market, where adaptability and a diverse skill set are increasingly valued.

The Portfolio Approach in Practice

A portfolio career is characterised by a combination of different professional activities, including part-time jobs, temporary positions, freelancing, and side gigs. Christina's career trajectory, from working in theatre to roles in tech and business, illustrates the richness and diversity of a portfolio career. This approach offers varied income streams and a way to continuously develop and apply skills in different contexts.

A central theme in Christina's discussion is the role of identity in career development. She emphasises the need for individuals to move beyond a narrow definition of their professional self. This expansion of identity allows for greater flexibility and openness to diverse career opportunities.

She also reinforces the importance of adaptability in a portfolio career. She shares her experiences of learning from failures and realigning goals, illustrating the importance of resilience and flexibility in today’s job market.

Advice for Aspiring Portfolio Professionals

Those best suited to a portfolio career are typically adaptable, enjoy variety, and can manage multiple projects effectively. Christina highlights the significance of seeing the whole picture - understanding the beginning, middle, and end of each project and enjoying the process of continual learning and challenge.

For those considering this path, she recommends a deep exploration of personal identity and goals. This understanding helps in selecting the right mix of roles and projects, contributing to both professional fulfilment and security.

Christina Wallace's insights offer a compelling argument for the portfolio lifestyle and career as a response to the changing dynamics of the job market. For professionals navigating these shifts, the portfolio approach provides a path for survival and thriving in a world where change is the only constant.

This approach reflects the growing trend of professionals seeking variety, flexibility, and fulfilment in their work lives. As traditional career paths become less prevalent, the portfolio career emerges as a viable and necessary strategy for success in the 21st-century job market.

If you’re interested in investigating this further, we have several episodes of The Job Hunting Podcast dedicated to this theme.

Please check out these two Categories: “Portfolio Career” and “New World of Work” to learn more.

About Our Guest, Christina Wallace

A self-described “human Venn diagram”, Christina Wallace has crafted a career at the intersection of business, technology, and the arts. She is currently a Senior Lecturer of entrepreneurship Harvard Business School, an active angel investor, and a co-producer of Broadway musicals. Her latest book is The Portfolio Life: How to Future-Proof Your Career, Avoid Burnout, and Build A Life Bigger Than Your Business Card (Hachette, 2023). A serial entrepreneur, Christina has built businesses in ecommerce, edtech, and media.

She also co-authored New To Big: How Companies Can Create Like Entrepreneurs, Invest Like VCs, and Install a Permanent Operating System for Growth (Penguin Random House, 2019) and was the co-host of The Limit Does Not Exist, an iHeart podcast with millions of downloads over 3 seasons and 125 episodes.

In her free time, she sings with various chamber choirs, embarks on adventure travel, and is a mediocre endurance athlete. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and their two children.

About the Host, Renata Bernarde

Timestamps to Guide Your Listening

Transcript of this Episode


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