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On Career Mid Life Crisis

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Randy Banna

I am a Mechanical engineer by study; Subsea engineer by practice, I started in the Oil & Gas sector in 2004. I worked for 8 years with BP in Egypt and the UK then for 2 years with Wood Group Kenny in the US. I am currently working on my MBA at Edinburgh Business School, Scotland and started my own consultancy firm in Egypt. I am a strong believer that collective effort and team work can build wonders, just like what our amazing Ancient Egyptian ancestors once did, you can reach out to me for Oil and Gas, Project Management or career development advice, please contact me on Facebook or Linkedin and I will be more than happy to help you out.
How to land your next job


You snooze your alarm once, you snooze it twice then by the third time you drag your body out of bed, force yourself to the bathroom, get dressed and start your work day. This is probably the case for some if not everyone I regularly come across at the work place.

You hit the 10 year mark and you always wonder where did all this time escape you, achievement after the other, milestone after the other, social event after the other, raises, promotions, moving jobs, moving countries, returning home, starting with a new company in a new culture, so many things happen during your first 10 years at work.

I took the time to reflect on my 10 years since I started working in 2004 and I am actually quite satisfied with where I am, I worked in 2 countries, travelled to a dozen more, I met very interesting people socially and in the work place, I laughed and cried, I got so mad and I got incredibly happy at moments, I felt ignored and I felt highly appreciated. I can calmly say, I felt the two extreme opposite sides of the spectrum of emotions through those 10 years and I eventually returned to my home country Egypt last summer to support my family and during this career break, I got the chance to think for a while. The only questions that popped to my mind were, now what and what are you going to do next?

I strongly advise you to ask yourself this question, be that during a career break or not. It is not merely an existential question, but a breath of fresh air that may get you to change how you see things and in extreme cases would result career changes and in return a massive dramatic change in your life as well. The question, as simple as it is led me to more questioning and eventually more analysis (I am an engineer after all and it is in my blood to analyse and come to conclusions).

1. Who do you like spending time with outside work?

Be that your parents, wife and kids, close friends, partner, you name it. Do you ever put much thought into this idea? I believe it will always depend on your priorities in life; it is good for me to remember that we work to live not live to work and the people we know, with their good and bad are part of our life and spending time with them is fulfilling and enriches our lives.

2. What is your favourite hobby?

What do you like doing when you are not at work? Living alone I realized I really like cooking and became very good at it, not as good with desserts though. I took up pencil drawing and did very well and I became interested in art involving paintings. I have to thank my many jobs as they gave me the opportunity to do a lot of travelling and visit museums all over Europe and get exposed to multiple cultures which helped me become a better person overall.

3. What kind of physical activity gets you really excited?

Athleticism is key, be that regular workout, jogging or simply shooting some hoops with a couple of buddies, playing sports regularly induces special hormones in the body that impressively improve the moral, mix that with weight loss and good figure then on a daily basis you end up certainly feeling happier. The word happy is a key aspect to think of during this article.

4. How broad is your general knowledge? And how do you feel about that?

My job taught me a few interesting things, in my discipline as a subsea engineer, there are many sub-divisions. I moved horizontally and learned a lot about each of them then I progressed vertically with one of the branches to push my expertise level as far as I could. This is actually applicable in everything in life. Now I figured out I like cooking, history, art, basketball, handball, computers, app development, fighter jets, political science, nature, pencil drawing and comics making. Knowledge is power, practicing your knowledge brings tremendous amounts of satisfaction and needless to say progressing vertically in any of those is your first step to becoming an expert at doing it.

5. Practice makes perfect

When was the last time you did something for the first time? The baby steps, the dedication and commitment that one is willing to express towards a certain goal. The effort you make does not always have to be for the sake of a promotion or the end of year bonus or even the monthly salary, may be volunteering will be your satisfaction or any of the hobbies I detailed in my previous points. The fact that is for anything in life, if you commit enough time and effort, you will become very good, add some passion to this recipe then you become a master.

6. What do you think of when you first wake up?

What is your passion? What is it that you do that makes time limitless? Or in the words of “Alan Watts” in one of his fantastic speeches, what do I desire? What makes you itch? And in summary of his speech, Alan Watts inspires us to think of and act upon what we really like doing, regardless of what this activity may be it is highly likely that if we do what we love, we will be very good at it and eventually can earn a certain fee for it and that is great advice for entrepreneurs and start ups.

I still think of where the past 10 years of my work life went and whether I would like to continue along the same path or divert my life to a different direction. The fact remains that I have enjoyed the good and the bad of the last 10 years, I have learned and evolved so much on the professional, academic and social level and the new fact is I am now really willing to explore my full potential without setting any boundaries and I advise everyone to do the same. How will I do that? That is a different story.

Respect earns you respect.

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