It Took Me Over 14 Years to Get This Career Story Out. Now Here It Is.

In the Greek mythology there is a nymph named Chloris. She wasn’t born divine; The myth goes that whenever she speaks of her mortal origins, flowers spill out of her mouth.

It’s not always easy, speaking about the origins of your grown self — those life events who made you who you are. For me, it took years finding the courage to share this particular story. Mainly because I didn’t want to scare the hell out of my family, telling them it wasn’t just a chilling scene I made up for my novel. It really happened, and it happened to me.

Perfect Darkness

The year is 2007. It’s late Friday night in a West Bank refugee camp. Two armored IDF jeeps rattle their way on a routine weekend tour. Not a soul on the main road. The alleys are flooded with deep darkness. It’s very quiet. Very, very quiet.

Suddenly, something orange flashes through the tiny window, followed by a deafening sound of explosion. The troops sitting next to me immediately did what they’re trained to: Throw open all the jeep doors, alight, and return fire into the darkness.

The troops sitting next to me immediately did what they’re trained to: Throw open all the jeep doors, alight, and return fire into the darkness.

During a painstaking eternity, maybe two minutes long, the troops and their commanding officers took corner positions and looked for the source of the shooting in the windows above them — completely vulnerable apart from the helmet and flak jackets to their bodies. I was exposed too, through that jeep’s wide-open doors, but all I cared about was seeing that incident through without showing fear. And I was shaking with fear.

I wasn’t supposed to be there. I shouldn’t have been there. The slightest misfortune could have ended my life, or worse; Because Israel’s worst nightmare is not a killed female soldier, but an abducted one.

I wasn’t supposed to be there. I shouldn’t have been there. The slightest misfortune could have ended my life, or worse; Because Israel’s worst nightmare is not a killed female soldier, but an abducted one.

But that night, going to bed, I couldn’t imagine how this largely trivial incident would make me what I came to be; What I’m still becoming. All I knew was one thing: That I was going to write about it.

I have always been a words person. The mere name of a place on earth was enough to inspire the adventure novels I wrote in my early teens. This time was no different, and so my first published novel “Goodbye Allah” was conceived. That refugee camp shooting is depicted there through the eyes of the protagonist — a female soldier recruited to an undercover unit. I wrote to remember, and to raise awareness; Only recently I came to understand that writing had kept my mental health together, as some kind of therapy.

I couldn’t imagine how this largely trivial incident would make me what I came to be; All I knew was one thing: That I was going to write about it.

From words to numbers, and back again

Still influenced by my West Bank adventures, I planned to major in Middle Eastern Studies and Journalism at Tel Aviv University. The role models I had in mind were Jewish-Israeli journalists Avi Issacharoff and Shlomi Eldar: both fluent in Arabic and intimately familiar with Palestinian affairs.

But my family legacy directed me into a “slightly” different track — Certified Public Accounting. My late grandfather pioneered it in our family as the IDF’s chief financial officer, followed by my father who founded a successful boutique firm, to which he planned for me to join. Fortunately, in Tel Aviv I could study a bi-disciplinary B.A. in Middle East and Accounting, or as I called them: love and money.

After 4 years of study and part-time student jobs came the much-dreaded board exams, plus two years of internship. Finally, I got the much-awaited license and became a CPA.

But this trade I worked 6 hard years to acquire was not related to what I liked most about work: building the firm’s business website, writing its articles and newsletter. By self-study, and without a penny on Google or Facebook ads, I was able to generate inbound contacts and sign retainers. Back then I still didn’t call it marketing. I didn’t even grasp the achievement; I was just glad that my work had such a fun part.

By self-study, and without a penny for advertising on Google or Facebook, I was able to generate inbound contacts and sign retainers. Back then I still didn’t call it marketing.

Meanwhile, the publishing contract for “Goodbye Allah” was signed with Israel’s largest publishing house, Kinneret Zmora-Bitan. That year, the book was nominated for the Sapir — Israel’s most prestigious literature award. This left little place for doubt regarding the written word’s proper place in my life — career included.

And, truth be told, a family business isn’t for everyone. Taking orders on a daily basis from your old folks at 30 requires a certain type, which I wasn’t. So after 4 years in the family firm I decided to hit the road. At first I applied for financial roles, but none of them called back. So I recalled what I liked most about work, and rerouted for marketing roles.

At first I applied for financial roles, but none of them called back. So I recalled what I liked most about work, and rerouted for marketing roles.

Reroute >> Tune in

Shifting wasn’t very pleasant to begin with: My financial background roused countless “why’s” from HR recruiters. Luckily for me, being a published author served as some kind of proof. But more importantly, I was blessed with a wonderful partner, a real-life prince, who believed in me even in days I didn’t.

My financial background roused countless “why’s” from HR recruiters. Luckily for me, I was blessed with a wonderful partner, a real-life prince, who believed in me even in days I didn’t.

I finally took an entry-level job as a marketing analyst. Mostly dealing with large-scale ad campaigns, my accounting experience was unexpectedly helpful: Drawing conclusions from numbers, building forecasts and making data-driven decisions under great uncertainty. In that first job, I was also fortunate to have two mentors (both women) for competitive intelligence and cross-company project management with NI’s content department. In parallel, I learned the basics of branding and marketing strategy off LinkedIn courses.

With those additional know-how’s I felt ready for a more creative role, and went on to be a Creative Director, where I learned how to manage dozens of freelancers and collaborate with Studio in creating winning combinations of image, video and text. Click here for all my lessons learned in my last Medium article.

None on the above was an obvious fit for my experience, let alone education. My luck, however, was that both employers appreciated career shifters. So actually, my unorthodox background came out as an advantage.

My luck was that both employers appreciated career shifters. So actually, my unorthodox background came out as an advantage.

When things come together

Today I am a marketing director. It’s my third marketing role, and the one I aimed for all along. The shifts in my professional path taught me to adapt quickly. In a company that works with a wide and changing range of technologies in a field that is constantly evolving, adapting is key to success. The natural tendency of accountants, to question any statement not backed by evidence, pushes me to research before formulating a marketing message, and use data points to illustrate that message. I always feel it shows great respect to our audience, no matter who they are.

In the army, holding a job of little authority and lots of responsibility, I learned to harness the good will of people who owed me nothing. Here, it helps me engage my smartest and busiest colleagues — our global engineering team. On stressful days I gain perspective reminiscing harsh events from my uniform days. In a small team like mine there are many such days. And of course, there are budgets to watch and a constant need to balance between cost and benefit. But trust me, I’m an accountant.

Never. Stop. Kicking.

I hope those of you who are considering a career change will find encouragement in my story, although it wasn’t all bright. It never is. Sometimes we try kicking the plans life has set for us and we can’t, like in a bad dream; There’s this occasional urge to smash everything and simultaneously be reduced to a puddle of tears; There are those lost nights and painful decisions, postponed to the point when they’re no longer decisions, but this big fat wave lifting us above our paralyzing fears. And these moments, these waves, always carry us somewhere better. One by one, they make us who we are. Who we’re coming to be, day by day.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

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Creative Director, User Acquisition specialist, CPA and a published novelist

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Li-Or Amir

Li-Or Amir

Creative Director, User Acquisition specialist, CPA and a published novelist

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