Everyone is an imposter, or at least, that seems to be how it feels whenever stepping into a new domain. My move from from conservation and conflict resolution to product and finally to finance was uncomfortably empowering.

I started my career working with the United Nations on initiatives to protect great ape habitats and mediate in post-conflict regions in equatorial Africa. The role required a profound understanding of human and ecological needs, as well as the ability to negotiate peace and sustainable solutions among diverse groups. The skills I developed—empathy, negotiation, and strategic problem-solving—were crucial. They taught me the importance of looking beyond the surface to understand the underlying issues that drive conflict, a skill that proved invaluable as I transitioned into the tech industry.

Moving into product management might have seemed like a leap into the unknown, but the core of my work remained the same: understanding complex problems and devising strategic solutions. At companies like Hilti and Grover, I applied my conflict resolution skills to resolve customer pain points and enhance user experiences. The transition was less about shedding my old self and more about applying my existing skills in new contexts. Managing cross-functional teams and multiple stakeholders wasn’t too different from mediating between conflicting parties—it was all about finding the common ground and building solutions that cater to various needs and expectations.

As I ventured into finance, particularly within the realm of angel investing and venture partnerships, my background in both conflict resolution and product management provided a unique perspective. Finance, particularly investment in startups, requires not only an understanding of numbers but also of people—the founders, their vision, and the teams they assemble. Here again, my ability to assess and mitigate risk, understand human motivations, and negotiate between different parties played a crucial role. Financing startups often involves aligning diverse agendas and ensuring that all parties are moving towards a common goal, a skill directly traceable to my days in conflict resolution.

This journey across different professional landscapes has taught me that the feeling of being an ‘imposter’ is really a signal of growth. It’s about stepping into new roles with a willingness to learn and adapt, armed with a toolkit of skills that are often more transferable than they might initially seem. My career path shows that the boundaries between disciplines can be fluid, and the key to successful transitions is leveraging one’s foundational skills in new and innovative ways.

Navigating these shifts has not only enhanced my adaptability but also deepened my understanding of the interconnectedness of our global systems—be they ecological, societal, or economic. Each role has enriched my perspective, making me a more effective leader and strategist.