Ibarra, Herminia 1961-

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IBARRA, Herminia 1961-


Born March 9, 1961, in Cuba. Education: University of Miami, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1982; Yale University, M.A., 1988; M.Phil., 1988; Ph. D., 1989. Hobbies and other interests: Art, opera.


Office—c/o INSEAD, Blvd. de Constance, 77305 Fontainebleau Cedex, France. E-mail—[email protected].


Educator. Yale School of Management, teaching fellow, 1985-89; Harvard University, faculty member, 1989-2002; INSEAD (business school), professor of organizational behavior, 2002—.


Greenhill Award, Harvard Business School, 1996; Yale University fellowship, 1986-87, 1988-89; Belgian American Educational Foundation fellowship, 1984-85; National Science Graduate Fellowship, 1982-84; 1985-86.


Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career, Harvard Business School Press (Boston, MA), 2003.

Contributor of articles to journals, including the Harvard Business Review, Administration Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, and Social Psychology Quarterly.


Career Development and Change, Identity, Social Networks, Women in Management.


Herminia Ibarra was a member of the Harvard Business School faculty for thirteen years before moving to INSEAD, an international business school in Fontainebleau, France. At INSEAD, she is professor of organizational behavior in the M.B.A. and executive programs. Her interests include career development, networking, innovation, and professional identity. She has taught at numerous corporate programs and gives seminars on human resources, career development, and organizational change.

In Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career, Ibarra presents strategies for those who have spent years building careers in one field but who wish to move to another type of career. Although conventional career counselors advise that job change should be logical and linear, Ibarra notes that this is seldom the case in real life. Most people have many skills and interests, and often they must find out what they want to do through trial and error. Ibarra interviewed people from all walks of life to find out how they made major career changes, and identified ways to make that process easier. She divides her book into three parts: experimenting with new professional activities, connecting with social networks, and thinking about one's identity in new and different ways. She also presents stories of twenty-three people who made radical changes: from psychiatrist to Buddhist monk, literature professor to stockbroker, and tech manager to executive coach.

In an interview in the New York Times, Ibarra told William J. Holstein that she thought more people were changing careers in the late 1990s and early 2000s than in previous decades. She noted that this might be because people "spend more time at work, [so] people expect more and more out of it." She also commented that changing one's career identity is much easier in the United States than in the rest of the world, because "the Americans have a culture that says reinvention is good. It's a place where you want to create a new life." In summing up the message of her book, she said, "Do not try to figure it all out before you make a move. Use small steps. You can't make a big move in the dark. You need more information. And the only actionable information comes from experimenting and interacting with people in that area you're exploring."



Booklist, December 1, 2002, David Siegfried, review of Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career, p. 634.

New York Times, December 22, 2002, William J. Holstein, "It's Not Too Late to Reinvent Your Own Wheel," p. C5.