“I saw time passing and I felt like I wasn't moving.”

Image of Rosana Ayumi
From Aerospace to Gaming

Fed up with endless meetings, and noticing a decline in her mental health, Rosana Ayumi decided to take a more structured approach to her career change. Here, she shares how reaching out for help resulted in surprising rewards, and a new role where she finally feels like herself.

What work were you doing previously?

I was working in the aerospace industry.

Specifically, I worked for a big aircraft manufacturer as a process development engineer, outside Sao Paulo in Brazil.

What are you doing now?

I am Chief Technology Officer for ISGAME (International School of Game) in Brazil.

We help people improve their brains through video game technology, using cognitive, physical and mental stimuli.

Why did you change?

I was in a highly competitive atmosphere that didn't feel very productive.

Around 80 per cent of my day was taken up in pretty heavy meetings to get to tasks I didn't feel were valuable, for me or the job.

When was the moment you decided to make the change?

When I saw time passing and I felt like I wasn't moving.

I wasn't really doing anything different to get out of my situation.

I'd started doing therapy. I wasn't feeling very well. I've never had a diagnosis of depression so I guess I can't really say that I was depressed. But I was feeling like it was getting worse.

How did you choose your new career?

First I did the Careershifters Career Change Launch Pad.

It changed how I viewed myself, and how to work out what I really wanted.

During my career search, I was always thinking about and coming back to visual ways of relating and learning.

Through the Launch Pad, I reached out to a favourite icon cartoonist – the creator of Zen Pencils. I couldn’t believe it when he not only replied but with so much good advice about what it would take to be in his space. He gave me so much inspiration but also practical business advice. I realised it was more of a hobby for me, not my next career.

Then, later during the course, I found this amazing start-up where intergenerational students and testers were helping develop technology for brain improvement video games (ISGAME).

I got really excited. I loved that the company had a real value proposal. So I got in touch with them.

Are you happy with the change? 

Yes. There is so much learning in my day now, seeing what we are all capable of.

Some of our testers, our ‘students’, are 60 or 70 years old. I see their smiles while they are playing our games. It’s very satisfying when I see them progress. And I'm amazed, too.

I especially love it when people say things like "No, you don't have to thank us for testing the game – it's a pleasure for us to help you help other people like us, our age. Not many companies look to older people, as society is changing so fast."

What do you miss and what don't you miss?

I don’t miss all the ‘extra’ meetings in larger companies.

Occasionally, I miss the extra office support, of course.

How did you go about making the shift?

I briefly wrote to the Founder of ISGAME to explain that I was trying to do a career experiment, and that I really liked his company.

He accepted my invitation to talk more.

He was very open, which was refreshing compared to where I was coming from, a big corporate company.

He invited me to visit and see the classes that were being run for people to play and develop the video games.

So I did. We talked for more than an hour during our first meeting. It was great; our ideas were such a good match. I knew it would be the right culture for me.

How did you develop (or transfer) the skills you needed for your new role?

My technology skills from my old role were transferable.

It was more that in this company I was now able to be more fully myself – and being on the Launch Pad helped me explore what that meant.

What didn’t go well? What wrong turns did you take?

I procrastinated hard before I got into the process of making a change.

That was bad for my mental health.

I handled it myself by getting therapy and things like that, but I probably spent too long in that mindset.

How did you handle your finances to make your shift possible?

I built up my savings, and my now-fiancée helped during the move.

What was the most difficult thing about changing?

It took almost a year, trying to find a way I could join ISGAME.

It’s a start-up, not a big company. So that whole year, we worked together so that I could move into the company the right way.

It was a small team, with limitations on resources, so there were bigger risks both for me and for them.

What help did you get?

I trusted the person I'd developed the initial working relationship with.

That helped me feel confident, because I felt that I was going to a safe place where I could be myself.

What have you learnt in the process?

Universally, don’t underestimate people’s capacity to learn – including your own!

And, more narrowly, sometimes with our video game development at ISGAME we think "Oh this is too difficult for our testers", but ‘older’ peoples’ brains can learn very fast, even faster than many younger people.

What do you wish you'd done differently?

I wish I'd gotten into a step-by-step structure earlier.

It’s hard to focus on something ‘big’ by yourself, especially when you don’t feel good about yourself.

What would you advise others to do in the same situation? 

Take all the encouragement you can get from people around you.

But not just passively – actively do things for yourself too, to turn your mental mindset around.

What lessons could you take from Rosana's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.

Rosana took part in our Career Change Launch Pad. If you're ready to join a group of bright, motivated career changers on a structured programme to help you find more fulfilling work, you can find out more here.

Plus, if you know someone who's made a successful shift into work they love, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at [email protected]. and you could win a £25 / $35 voucher in our monthly draw.