How a Tech Redundancy Built My Resilience

In the ever-evolving world of technology, change is inevitable, and even the most stable of jobs can be upended in an instant. In this candid and insightful guest post, Leah Driscoll shares her personal experience of job loss and the subsequent journey of self-discovery and growth.

Leah’s journey offers valuable lessons on adaptability, continuous learning, and resilience, while also emphasising the importance of self-care and maintaining a sense of purpose.

This year, I was one of the many thousands of tech workers whose role was eliminated in the blink of an eye. I am in my late-twenties, and had joined the company 18 months ago, ironically, during a period of hyper growth in the company. 

I truly loved my job. I worked fully remotely, which suited my introverted self down to the ground. The industry I worked in was fast paced and exciting, and I felt in sync with my manager and my team. I was thriving in my role – my expectations in Q1 of 2023 were to finally clinch a promotion I had been working towards for some time. 

It turns out my prediction was about as accurate as Met Eireann’s average weather forecast. I was expecting a clear and sunny future, and instead I was thrown into a storm. I, along with thousands of other colleagues were logged out of all work devices and received a text informing us of our likely redundancy. 

Luckily for me, I think my generation has been somewhat primed for this season of layoffs. I was still in school during the recession of 2008. By witnessing what was going on in the world, I learned that no job is permanent, no matter how stable it seemed. I learned never to take a job for granted.

Additionally, over the past ten years, a plethora of jobs that previously never existed have cropped up, particularly in the tech space. Suddenly, there was such a vast array of jobs available to suit different skill sets, it simply didn’t make sense to stick to just one career path. I have always viewed a job as a project in my portfolio, a chance to build new skills, rather than a lifelong commitment. This perspective meant that I could accept this redundancy as an opportunity to find my next project, my next challenge. 

I don’t want to diminish the impact a layoff can have on a person – figuring out your next step can be intimidating and frustrating, especially in a more challenging job market. I have certainly felt like this myself over the past few months. Here are three skills that have helped me to move through this period: 

  • Adaptability: While figuring out my next step, I have been able to use my skills on a freelance basis in an external consulting role for a company. This has been a great opportunity to gain new perspectives, collaborate with new people, and continue doing the work that I love. 
  • Continuous Learning: The extra time on my hands has provided the perfect opportunity to build on my skills through learning. Not only does this keep me busy and help me to grow, it looks great on a resume for a potential future employer. 
  • Resilience: It can be difficult to motivate yourself after a layoff, and there is a lot to be said for simply managing to put one foot in front of the other every day. For me, it was helpful to sit down and determine what my high level goals were for the coming months (eg. find a new job, complete a course). Then, I would try to complete one small task a day that would help me move a little further towards that goal (eg. research a company I am interested in, watch one instructional video). This has really helped me to maintain a sense of purpose, without burning myself out. 

Perhaps more important than all of these things is to look after yourself. It can be easy to fall into a trap of feeling like you constantly need to be productive – incessantly refreshing LinkedIn Jobs, back to back interviews, even scrubbing your house top to bottom. All of those things are great, but in the same way you need a work life balance when you are employed, when searching for a job, you need to carve out time for you to relax and do the things you love without feeling guilty. Even though you are on the job search, you deserve to rest, just like everyone else. 

Finally, it is reassuring to know that I am not alone. There are so many talented and hard working people who are going through the same experience as me. While this period has been a struggle, I am excited by the future. I am lucky enough to have secured a great new role elsewhere in Europe and am looking forward to fulfilling a personaI goal of living and working abroad. 

I am also excited to see how the tech industry develops after these layoffs, and the new players who will emerge as a result. have no doubt that in 5-10 years, we will be hearing from the latest unicorn company founder, whose latest great innovation was sparked by their layoff from a tech company in 2023. The future is bright.

Leah Driscoll

The Chord Future of Work Podcast

The Human Side of Innovation: The Power of People in Love with People

In this episode, we delve into the fascinating world of innovation and design with our distinguished guest, Mauro Porcini, PepsiCo’s first-ever Chief Design Officer. Mauro has been instrumental in infusing design thinking into PepsiCo’s culture, leading a new approach to innovation that significantly impacts the company’s product platforms and brands. He is also the host of the successful video podcast “In Your Shoes – with Mauro Porcini,” where he interviews inspiring personalities from the global creative community.

In 2022, Mauro published his first book in English, “The Human Side of Innovation: The Power of People in Love with People” (Berrett-Koehler), which focuses on innovation, design, and leadership. During our conversation, we discuss topics such as:

  1. The importance of empathy and human-centric design in driving innovation.
  2. How to build a culture of innovation within an organization.
  3. The role of design thinking in creating transformative products and experiences.
  4. Balancing creativity and business objectives for long-term success.
  5. Insights from Mauro’s book and his experiences working with global brands such as PepsiCo and 3M.

Learn more about Mauro’s book here.

The Chord Future of Work Podcast

The Leadership Challenge- From Surviving to Thriving

In this episode, we explore the critical components of effective leadership with Dr. Kerrie Fleming, Associate Dean at Ashridge Executive Education at Hult International Business School.

Her expertise has made her a sought-after advisor to Fortune 500 companies, international governments, and both indigenous and international organizations.

Born and raised in Kerry, Ireland, Dr. Fleming’s background provides a unique perspective on leadership that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries. We delve into topics such as:

  • The importance of adaptability and resilience in today’s rapidly changing business environment.
  • How leaders can foster a culture of innovation and creativity within their organizations.
  • Strategies for effectively managing change and overcoming resistance to new ideas.
  • The significance of empathy, emotional intelligence, and self-awareness in leadership development.
  • Balancing the need for results-driven performance with the well-being and engagement of employees.

Dr. Kerrie Fleming’s work in leadership development has garnered international acclaim, with the MBA programs consistently ranked among the best in the world by the Financial Times. Through this conversation, our listeners will gain valuable insights and actionable advice on how to cultivate effective leadership skills and guide their organizations from merely surviving to truly thriving.


The Chord Future of Work Podcast

Fired, fearful and fifty

In this episode, we discuss Mark Cahalane’s experience with redundancy and how he overcame the challenges of rebuilding his career.

As someone who has been through the process twice, Mark shares nine insights from his personal experience on how to move forward. He highlights the importance of allowing yourself to grieve and responding rather than reacting.

Mark also emphasises the value of listening to your inner voice, taking time to pause, and finding your personal fan club. By being brave enough to listen to yourself and get out of your own way, it is possible to become vital and purposeful again.

Mark Cahalane is an expert in strategic counsel, reputation management, stakeholder engagement, leadership coaching and resolving high performance challenges across leadership teams.

At CRH plc, the €29 billion FTSE 100 group, he established and led the Corporate Affairs function and operations. Previously, Mark had established and led the EMEA corporate consultancy practice of Edelman, the world’s largest communications consultancy, across 18 markets.

He has acted as change advisor to Chief Executives and leaders in high profile organisations including Paddy Power, Ryanair, and GE.

Click here to read more about Mark’s experience on our blog; Fired, fearful and fifty.


Fired, fearful and fifty. Tips from experience.

If you are 50 plus, this article will be the best investment of your time today. It is raw, uncensored and truly courageous, it’s incredibly well written. Having worked with Mark on his career transition journey – he has come out and said what many fear to say publicly – huge respect Mark Cahalane and continued success on your new journey. – John Fitzgerald MD Harmonics

During my career, my role was made redundant twice. Evidence of how fickle corporate life can be. It’s a horrible and confusing experience. While that’s true for any of us, at a certain life stage it can have a crippling impact if we allow it. For those of us who are part of Generation X, the fear of losing our job can be worse than the reality of actually losing it. In so many instances our role is our identity, and we surely can’t survive without that, or can we?

For many of us, who are in our late forties and early fifties, (and my perspective is a male one), work becomes intrinsically linked to our sense of self. It’s an identity we want to hold on to at all costs.

The fear of loss of status and identity can be the start of an unpleasant and searching inner dialogue. The financial worries, questions of self-worth and shame that can accompany actual redundancy are very real and frequently stark. Your inner and outer landscape can become a deeply lonely place.

Please hang up your identity on the way out.

I well remember the day I was told my role no longer existed. It felt like I was being asked to hang up my outer skin in reception on my way out the door. My old identity was gone in an instant left hanging in the office along with my personal purpose and my plans. My responsive fear almost took on a spectral life form. Shadowing me, my constant unwelcome companion. This was a fear that went to my core along with unhealthy doses of illogical shame. Any recruiter I met could smell fear a mile away.

It is possible to get beyond this and in better shape than you went into it.

Nine thoughts from personal experience on how to shift forwards.


There’s a process of grief you must go through. Your mind plays tricks. It feels like you are in some sort of organisational space time continuum. You think you ought to be somewhere.  In fact, you have to be precisely nowhere – and at any time you choose.  Irrelevant and lost.  But here is the curious thing.   Adversity can in fact be opportunity in disguise.  You just have to shift your gaze to notice it.  But it follows a period of loss you have to allow take place.


Over time, I noticed that all my doubts lead to one core question. Will I ever be corporately relevant again and how do I get to be? Passing offices, I would think about how fortunate the people inside were. I asked myself over and over, how do I get into the room again? It turns out that this was the wrong question. The real question, I needed to allow emerge was what do I want to do with my life now? What has meaning and purpose to me, not others, just me! Sure, there was plenty of advice available. Some good, some simply terrible. It sounds like a cliché but the people you think will help you don’t. Those you least expect do. People you don’t even know reach out to you and offer support. A compelling insight came to me early on. “Don’t react, respond”. What does that mean? Well, for me, it meant yes, recognise my financial realities but think through carefully what I really wanted to do. This was a time to listen to that whispering inner voice… that knows us best of all.


If I were to offer a core insight, it is this. When adversity comes calling, do not keep pushing that inner voice away. Behind your fear is your own inner voice and it’s a great advisor. Your inner essence is the most loving and inspirational voice you will ever hear. Listen to it and give it space. For me, that voice led me back into education. Ultimately, evolving my professional life into new but not totally unrelated areas to my career of origin. My chosen area being team performance coaching, leadership, and stakeholder engagement. I now work with CEO’s and leadership teams across a range of strategic issues and team challenges. It took a while to get here. It started with a pause and time to recalibrate.


To have any hope of doing this it was incredibly important for me to get out of my own way. To banish the “I should” and “I must” “I can’t” thoughts and fears. Slowing down a little. I took the time to meet someone new and important, myself. Rather than following the impulses of the person I thought I was, I paused to understand who I had become. This is a process that also benefits the leaders and teams I work with today. Even the most senior leaders have fears and very few safe spaces to voice them.


Thinking about my values, my beliefs, my interests, and motivations was highly instructive. As was the time taken to assess my career to date and what I had gotten out of it so far. Not existential questions of happiness. More a practical and honest assessment of my working life so far. The end result was evolution not revolution. I was very fortunate that my former employer paid for coaching. I used those sessions well. In fact, I couldn’t recommend having a challenging coaching relationship highly enough.


A big lesson for me was the loss of the corporate brand behind me. I know many people choose to go back into almost identical employment post redundancy. The imperative is to leap back into that safe space. I chose not to do this as I didn’t think I wanted to continue on an identical path. I wanted to try my own thing for now. It’s a curious thing to adjust to loosing corporate back up. When you are out on your own you are really out on your own. Corporate identity gone; your calls are no longer going to be automatically returned. So, you have to get over yourself a bit and become a lot braver, at least I did. Braver about how you get to meet people and how you hustle a bit. That was a huge challenge for me.


Surrounding yourself with advocates is also important. Those amazing people who believe in you and will support you through thick and thin. But realistically so, not blindly so. They are the unsung heroes of my experience. They helped me put shape on what I wanted to do. They helped me figure out was there any demand for my coaching and consultancy offer. Mine is a pragmatic and challenging approach to leadership development. Through my experience there is a certain robustness and directness at the core of my offer. Senior industry experience and close relationships with demanding CEOs has given me valuable insight and perspectives. Theirs is a complex world where superlative performance is the expectation. Not everyone welcomes that expectation in a professional relationship.


It important to recognise that with grey hairs comes experience, insight, and the courage of your convictions. Maybe you have less to lose. I have been more honest with myself and those around me in the past three years than I have been in the last thirty. In my case, my experience is in the corporate world. I am working with individual and corporate clients who seem to like robust, unencumbered insights. But ones rooted in valuable experience with great companies. That’s the starting point. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do. There were strands of my career I wanted to draw together. For me, it was about doing more meaningful work where my experience could be used to help others. I don’t have all the answers by any means. I am on a journey for sure, but at least I know that I am on the right path for me. I have my ‘why’ and in general, the ‘how’ seems to follow.


So, to those of you who see redundancy as the end of the road at 50, or any stage, may I humbly suggest that it’s not. It is possible to become vital and purposeful again. It’s also possible to become a better version of yourself. Assured in who you are, with more depth and experience to offer, but hopefully with the humility to learn from a most unpleasant experience. You just have to be brave enough to listen to yourself and get out of your own way. You may also need the help of a leadership whisperer to help you on your way.

About Mark

Mark Cahalane is an expert in strategic counsel, reputation management, stakeholder engagement, leadership coaching and resolving high performance challenges across leadership teams. At CRH plc, the €29 billion FTSE 100 group, he established and led the Corporate Affairs function and operations. Reporting to the Group Chief Executive and serving on the Group Management Team, he guided the organisation’s engagement with all stakeholders, telling a compelling engagement story to the wider world as part of a focused strategy to drive performance and value creation.

Previously, Mark had established and led the EMEA corporate consultancy practice of Edelman, the world’s largest communications consultancy, across 18 markets.

He has acted as change advisor to Chief Executives and leaders in high profile organisations including Paddy Power, Ryanair, and GE.

Mark has built a track record of high performance and success gained through a deep experience of the unique leadership, strategic and operational challenges which large scale, complex organisations present. He is especially familiar with the multi-dimensional performance lenses through which Chief Executives and Senior Leadership Teams are required to view the organisation in order to deliver strategic execution, performance and growth.

The Chord Future of Work Podcast

Is Life and Wellbeing your Number One Priority?

Dr Magdalena Bak-Maier is the creator of the Grid method for health, results and success, a neuroscientist, productivity and wellbeing expert, and leading international coach and passionate educator who founded Make Time Count to support people in being and doing well.

Her unique heart, mind, body and spirit approach helps people navigate life, lead and heal by tapping into the full power of their nervous system. Magdalena teaches minds to feel and hearts to think and believes talent is not in short supply, connected people are!

She is author of 3 books: Get Productive!, Body Talk, and Get Productive Grid and finalist in the independent Wishing Shelf Book award 2022. Her books offer practical, easy to apply tools. Her current work explores how balance supports human flourishing, effective habit change, mental health and burnout.

Click here to learn more about the Grid.Join Magdalena’s Goal Getter Bootcamp 2023.Join the MTC mailing list.


5 Key Factors that Impact Organisational Commitment

Here are 5 Key Factors, I see in our consulting and coaching work that impact organisational commitment.

Contribution to Culture: We have come through such turbulent change in the past few years. Covid has reshaped society in ways we never expected with the growth in remote and hybrid work. We have seen culture vouchers to the value of €500 being introduced in countries across Europe to entice young people to come off tech and out of their homes to attend festivals and events. In the UK, we see a Minister for Loneliness to tackle this critical issue of isolation. We have never been so digitally connected but socially isolated. As humans we want to join cultures that commit to us, but my question is are we committing fully to creating thriving company cultures?

Talent Now Holds The Balance of Power: The global shortage of talent has seen the balance of power swinging to people who can work from anywhere dictating their terms and conditions to suit their lifestyle. The younger generation joining business today are the children of parents who gave their commitment and loyalty to organisations. In many cases, this loyalty was misplaced, they trusted too much. Troughs in the economic cycle leads to restructuring and redundancies. Reducing head count is still seen by the markets as a positive and steers the share price back up again. But at what cost to humans? Short-termism has reduced people’s commitment to the company to look after them. As one person said to me impacted by this corporate downsizing “It wasn’t until I lost my job, I realised how lost I was in my job”.

Trust & Certainty: We don’t have certainty in our careers anymore as we live in a uncertain world. We can’t place our full trust in a manager to mentor us as they may move on swiftly to a new employer or their role may be outsourced. My mother was a staunch catholic, she believed in God, she was certain if she lived a good life, when she died, she would eventually enter heaven. It was that simple in her mind, she was certain, she trusted in God. This was her higher purpose. Her faith kept her going through tough times. While my Mam’s generation had their faith, what have we? We might use new corporate words like ‘values’ and ‘purpose’ today but how much faith do we have in ourselves to overcome life’s challenges?

Rejection Leads to Redirection: Organisations today are rightly being scrutinised by would be employees. Graduates and mobile talent are more savvy than ever before. Stress and mental health issues are growing each year in the workforce. Now people want more. They want honesty, they want companies to say what they mean and mean what they say. My view is rejection leads to redirection. We are rejecting a world which focuses only on shareholder value and profiteering by the few. Redirection is leading to business models that attract and retain people who want a life alongside their work, not before it and a sustainable living. Smart business leaders are awake to this change and hiring the smart talent who want a better life but more needs to happen.

Commitment is Complex: We need to firstly redefine our commitment to ourselves to prioritise health and happiness. This begins with our education system and identifying role models that live authentic lives not Instagram influencers promoting the perfect life. We know perfection is inhuman, because we humans would have zero empathy. We need to commit and identify with our communities and have a sense of belonging to a place we call home. We need to bring our full selves to work, not the game face. We need to be trusted more and given more autonomy to thrive. We need psychological safety in our working world to open up about ourselves as leaders, managers and employees. This way we become better people, better employers and a better society. We need to give before we take. We live in a world of instant gratification, how about rejecting this for a world of eternal gratefulness.

If I had a message for the world, it would be:

‘Trust more, fear less. By being fearless, we commit’.

John Fitzgerald is the Founder of the Harmonics Group. Harmonics specializes in helping organizations plan for change, manage change and support their people through change.

Follow Harmonics on LINKEDIN and keep up to date with trends in the World of Work

The Chord Future of Work Podcast

Minding the Generational Gap

In this episode of The Chord, John Fitzgerald talks to Dr. Mary Collins, Chartered Psychologist, author and Executive Coach at RCSI Institute of Leadership.

Mary is currently involved in a significant study on understanding the drivers and motivations of Generation Z, colloquially known as “zoomers”. Mary’s latest book, ‘Emotional Intelligence & Dentistry’ is due to be published in 2023.

In this episode, we learn about Mary’s early life experiences which influenced what she does today, different generation perspectives in the workplace and Mary’s work with female leaders.

Hope you enjoy the show!

Reference Article: Rising Stars. How to Engage & Develop ‘Generation Y’.

In this article above, Dr. Mary Collins writes about her research exploring how best to engage ‘Generation Y’ in the workplace. Her doctoral research involved a sample of c.500 young professionals in law, accounting and engineering.

The Chord Future of Work Podcast

Rethinking Performance Management

In this episode of The Chord, John Fitzgerald talks to Aisling Teillard, Global Chief Customer Officer of Beqom, a cloud based solution provider that unifies compensation and rewards processes.

Aisling’s career journey was of particular interest progressing from HR Director with both SAP and O2 to become a technology start up founder. She openly discusses with John the myriad of challenges and calculated risks taken as she progressed from a start-up to becoming a global business and then successfully being acquired by Beqom.

In this episode, Aisling shares her thoughts and experience on re-imaging performance, shaping and influencing culture and addressing bias,

Hope you enjoy the show!


Rejection… leads to… Redirection

“It wasn’t until I lost my job, I realized how lost I was in my job”.

Meta’s news today along with other global tech firms has started a wave of downsizing to reduce costs. Investor backed tech firms have grown exponentially in recent years which led to rapid hiring to meet demand. Now just as quickly when the tide turns, we are seeing rapid firing.  Once confidence dips in the markets, the first way many corporates know to stall a share price fall is to make a downsizing call.

In Ireland, we are protected by employment legislation laws around terms and conditions for redundancy, which cushions the blow. In the remote world of work, we now live in, some impacted by these layoffs will be leaving colleagues they never physically met!

In our Outplacement work, I have met thousands of people just after they hear this emotional news. When I meet them, they are often hurt and experiencing feelings of sadness, loss, shame, and anger. They are fearful, not knowing what to do next. It’s an emotional tsunami of feelings as neurochemicals are flooding through the body. They are in a survival emotional state.

The Emotional Spectrum Model illustrates our 8 primary emotions. The 5 primary survival emotions are Fear, Anger, Disgust, Shame and Sadness. They historically protected us from danger when we were being physically attacked. When you lose your job these survival emotions kick in because your self-worth is under attack.

But, the surprise/startle emotion is a potentiator and can flip response states. Between stimulus and response there is a space, this space offers choice. Rejection is an opportunity for Redirection.

Redirection takes time and when you are anxious and fearful, you want the quick fix, the next job! Time is needed to do a career stock-take to clarify how you could move to the thriving side of the emotional spectrum. This is where you seek out roles which bring you excitement and joy. Working in a thriving culture where you are trusted and valued. These are the attachment emotions which bring career happiness and engagement.

In the past two years especially, I have come across many people permanently operating from survival emotions. They are stressed and burned out in their work. They haven’t taken the time to reassess their future career direction. Bad as this news of redundancy will be for some, it is the opportunity to press pause and reappraise their definition of career and life success.

One person I coached through job loss said to me lately – “It wasn’t until I lost my job, I realized how lost I was in my job”.

If you are facing redundancy, I would ask you these three questions to help you do a career stocktake:

  • What emotions were you regularly experiencing each day at work?
  • When in your career past have you been at your best and what made it so?
  • What strengths and skills do other’s say you bring to a project and why?

John Fitzgerald is the Founder of the Harmonics Group. Harmonics specializes in helping organizations plan for change, manage change and support their people through change.

Follow Harmonics on LINKEDIN and keep up to date with trends in the World of Work