Career choice: Head of business development, My Business Counsel
Name: Rasneet Sohal
Level of PQE: 6 years
Current position and immediate former position: Head of business development at My Business Counsel. Formerly associate solicitor at Tyndallwoods Solicitors, Birmingham
Why did you go into the law in the first place?
I went in to law because I wanted to make a difference to people's lives. It was never about large financial reward or recognition for me but more about the passion of using your knowledge to help or enrich a person's life. They say knowledge is power and that is certainly the case with being a lawyer. That appealed to me greatly.
What was your first job as a qualified solicitor?
After I qualified at a community law centre in Derby, I moved to a medium sized city practice in Birmingham within their specialist housing litigation team.
I gained valuable experience at the firm and working in private practice really honed my skill set in terms of being able to meet deadlines and targets. I realised how much I enjoyed meeting new and interesting people within the profession and it was where my passion for business development really began.
What was your reason(s) for choosing your career path?
When I decided to become a lawyer and specialise in housing litigation, it was a relatively niche area with good opportunities.
When I decided to take a different career path as a business development executive, it was for both practical and lifestyle reasons. I wanted a career away from chargeable hours and fee earning targets, and one that would be enriched by meeting new and exciting people in addition to being able to spend more time with my young family.
I was apprehensive but I soon realised that making the transition away from the legal profession and into a completely different way of thinking and working was possible.
What steps did you take to make that move a reality (include details of resources that you found particularly helpful)?
When I first joined My Business Counsel, my role was slightly ambiguous and 'all encompassing'. As the business grew and developed it was evident we needed to generate and nurture our business leads. I also learnt the power of LinkedIn and how you can quickly and effectively expand your business network with social media.
How easy or difficult did you find the move?
The transition from practising law to a role in business development was like a breath of fresh air for me. I went from having work allocated to me in private practice to having to go out and find business leads myself.
There were challenges in terms of changing my mind set of advising clients and fee earning to being able to market and sell our services. However, I embraced this new way of working and networking with people.
What do you consider to have been the key factor in enabling you to make that successful move?
Being able to embrace change.
How did you find the transition after you made the move?
The change to business development and marketing for My Business Counsel was a relatively seamless transition and I feel as though I carved out the role for myself due to the requirements of the business at the time.
There were challenges, such as changing from providing legal advice to selling the services of the firm. Also gaining self-esteem and growing in confidence to be able to believe in our product enough to be able to sell it to others.
What do you most enjoy about your current role?
The fact that it is so varied from day to day is refreshing. I meet a variety of different business people and enjoy learning about new industries.
What did you learn about how to make change effectively and what would you have done differently?
The greatest lesson learnt was learning to adapt to change. I had to learn a different skill set when leaving private practice as a lawyer and becoming a 'salesperson' for the business. Being proactive in linking with new contacts and trying to do things outside of my comfort zone, such as opportunities to present.
What are your three tips for a successful change in career direction?
- Adapt to change
- Research your new post
- Willingness to learn