“The process helped me pivot into a new career”

Written by Jamie Oliver Tuesday 09 July 2024
Sean Kelly had travelled the globe for a decade. Now, he’s working at Amazon, and has embarked on a Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship that is helping him move into a successful new management career
Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly’s career reads like a film script, hanging out with high-net-worth Russians, and flitting between St Petersburg, Moscow and Marbella, while operating various companies that organised recruitment, transport and security for them. But the finale to his Russian adventure wasn’t what Sean had expected. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Sean realised that – still only 33 years old – had to turn his back on the glitz and glamour and return home to Northern Ireland. 

But then what? 

“Coming back was a culture shock,” he admits. “For a few months I was in limbo; not sure what to do with my life, and with experience and skills that weren’t easily transferable.” Fast forward two years and Sean has a job with Amazon and has embarked on a Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship. It has been a successful pivot. Sean says the job – and qualification – has helped him refocus, given him renewed confidence and opened doors.


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A zig-zag career

It is fair to say that Sean’s career has surprised him. In 2012, he was studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Queen’s University, Belfast. “Ireland had a great reputation for education. And one day, out of the blue, I was approached to become a teacher for a high-profile and high-net-worth Russian in St Petersburg, mainly to help teach their children English”, he says. 

Sean was good at it, the children liked him and they quickly learned English. He soon became a trusted member of staff. He started to travel with the family, between Moscow and St Petersburg, and spent summers in Marbella. He met friends of his boss and they wanted people too. So Sean set up an agency to recruit staff for them. Soon, he was organising transport and security, and life was good if unusual. It wasn’t to last. 

Two years ago he had a decision to make.“Let’s just say the circumstances in Russia changed,” Sean says. “I had to return. I wanted a different career path but after ten years living that life I had a very different perspective. I have to admit, coming back was a struggle.”

Discover how a CMDA helped Sean pivot – for the better


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