Making an Asymmetric Value Career Move

At the right point in one’s career, there may well be the opportunity to make an ‘asymmetric value move’. By this I mean the skills and experience required in one specific environment have a disproportionate level of value in a new arena. 

Think about Wayne Rooney's recent move to DC United. Although he could probably just about still cut it in the Premier League, his value to a football team in the US is considerable and disproportionate to what it might be in England. 

An asymmetric value move such as this does not need to be driven by fading talent. There may be any number of reasons for wanting to leave one environment for another, and there are both upsides and downsides to be considered.


  • Asymmetric value inherently means that you will bring a disproportionate level of value to the new position.
  • That level of value may well be matched by very high levels of remuneration if the economics of the business model allow.
  • It may be a way of extending a career beyond what was possible in the previous job.
  • It may also provide new challenges and new situations which are both exciting and fulfilling.
  • Furthermore, it may be possible to experience a real sense that what one is doing is having a direct and beneficial impact on the business, rather that feeling the disconnect that many feel in larger corporations. 


  • The existing team may feel intimidated and resentful at the arrival of a "heavy hitter”, as it might imply that they are not capable or inadequate. 
  • The actual reality of the new environment may leave the asymmetric mover feeling under-challenged in the job and frustrated by the lack of big firm resources to get things done.
  • The asymmetric move is in most instances a one-way ticket, as it is likely to prove very difficult to get back into the big leagues once the trade has been made.

So, at what point in the lifecycle of a business should the asymmetric value mover target?

  • Become part of a start-up management team working for the founder(s), helping to drive the enterprise to its Prime.
  • Join at the point where the firm is at the end of its initial growth and is now ready to enter Prime. The mover should gauge just how ready the founder(s) is to hand over the reins to a professional management team, which is a crucial prerequisite for continued growth.
  • Join a firm which is already in its Prime and needs to add to or upgrade the management team to further grow the business.
  • It’s possible that the asymmetric value mover has an appetite for a turnaround and will seek to target firms which are in decline and need to be brought back to health.

Making an asymmetric career move is a big decision and one which warrants careful consideration. Equally, whilst there are many potential dangers, the rewards for getting such a move right can be significant.

If you’re beginning to think about making a significant career move - asymmetric value or not - and would like to talk to someone about it, please get in touch. 

You can book a free career consultation here: