With one in 20 of us determined to get a new job, Eimear O’Hagan Four women swap steady, high-paying careers to pursue exciting endeavors. Untried paths. Be inspired


 We all know someone pushed into a career change by redundancy, relocation or family circumstances. However, an increasing number of women are taking a leap motivated not by necessity, but by a desire to experience a new – and different – working life. Recent research found that 20 percent of women plan to change jobs in the coming three months. Three quarters of job seekers are also considering switching industries. ‘Post-pandemic, we’re going to see more and more women asking themselves, “What parts of my old life do

I want to take into this new world?”’ says business psychologist Michelle Minnikin. As a consequence, she explains, we’ll see more women embracing new jobs – not because they have to, but because they want to.

While past generations subscribed to the notion of a ‘job for life’, Michelle, who runs consulting agency Work Pirates, says we’re shaking that off – prioritising following our passions and feeling fulfilled over status, stability and salary. She also believes that it can be beneficial to make the change later in your life.

‘With age comeYou can find it here experience and transferable skills that can be packed up and taken from one career to another, even if on paper they’re very different,’ says Michelle. ‘It’s amazing when you start to list all your skills how many can be transferred. This clarity – women deciding “It’s my turn now” when it comes to what they do for a living – is such a positive and exciting trend, and we’re only going to see more of it.’

Overleaf, four women reveal how changing career was the best decision they’ve ever made…

‘I used my skills to start my own business 

Lottie Trump: 'After 11 years in the classroom, I felt unfulfilled and my life was consumed by my job.'

Lottie Trump: “After eleven years teaching, I was unfulfilled. My life was consumed with my job.”

Lottie Trump (35), is a teacher who has become an entrepreneur. Her husband Ben is 32. She lives with Lottie in Dorset. They are expecting their first baby.

My family and friends were not pleased when I told them that I would be leaving the teaching profession as primary school teacher in July 2019. Even though I had been a teacher my whole life, it was a difficult decision for those closest to me.

However, after eleven years teaching in the classroom I found myself feeling empty and overwhelmed by my work. For a decade, I’d been teaching at a preparatory boarding school, and although I loved seeing the children flourish, being a ‘house parent’ as well as a teacher meant I only left work once or twice a week, and every other weekend. I was in my early 30s and couldn’t shake off the feeling that there was something else out there I could be doing with my skills.

By the summer of 2019 it felt like a ‘now or never’ moment: if I didn’t make the leap out of teaching, I never would. The only problem was I didn’t really know what I wanted to leap into. With Ben’s support, I quit my job anyway and started work as a private tutor to continue bringing in an income while I worked out my next step.

The pandemic struck and many families were now homeschooling their kids. This meant that I had to be more busy than ever. By then, I had also hired several teachers to help me meet demand. When parents started asking me for more work to do between my sessions with their children, I realized that there was no market in maths instruction for children younger than 5. It would be easy for children to grasp the basic concepts in small, manageable chunks, all without the need of a computer screen.

Ben – who was working as a teacher at the time – and I began to design a product, along with the tutors who were working for me, and my company Cubie (cubie-education.com) was born. It’s an early years and Key Stage 1 maths programme, in the form of a monthly subscription box. The box is kid-friendly. It includes workbooks and a guidebook for parents. A reward poster, stickers, and practical resources, such as pencils and rulers. It’s the math equivalent of reading 15 minutes each day.

In September, after months of planning and market research, I finally sent the first subscription boxes. It’s early days but the feedback from families has been fantastic, and Ben has also left teaching to work with me running the business. It was a collective leap of faith by both us to help get the business off the ground.

To know I’ve taken my passion for educating and my teaching skills, and used them to create something new that helps children and parents, feels wonderful. Running my own business is so different to being a cog in the bigger machine that is a school – and I love it.

‘I sold my home and moved to Paris’ 

Marie Bailey: 'Turning 40, and being single, I felt a burning desire to try something else.'

Marie Bailey: “Turning forty and being single, it was a strong desire for me to do something different.”

 Marie Bailey (43), is a florist turned lecturer who now lives in Edinburgh. Arranging a bouquet of flowers, knowing they’re going to make someone smile, is a wonderful feeling.

My career as a florist couldn’t be more different to my old one, where I lectured in employment relations. I’ve always been a creative person. Although I was a lover of interior design, I never took any horticulture classes. It was purely a hobby. Like many people, I’d gone down the ‘get a proper job’ path and by 2018 I’d worked in academia for 15 years. I loved teaching but it wasn’t the job it had once been – and

I’d become disillusioned. Being 40 and single I had a strong desire to do something different. 2018 saw me quit my job, sell my London house and move to Paris. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I wanted new surroundings in which to figure it out and planned to live off the sale of my home in the meantime.

It was scary. It was not just about losing a job with a decent salary but it also took away my identity. If I wasn’t an academic any more, who was I? Reactions to my decision ranged from envy that I was brave enough to find something I really wanted to do, to concern I was leaving a ‘job for life’.

Paris Flower School is run by Catherine Muller. Instinctively I knew I’d found my new career. I spent three months training full-time to become a florist, paying around £20,000 for the course, and I adored every minute, walking home past the Louvre each evening clutching an arrangement I’d learned to create.

My degree was my first step towards working as an independent florist in Paris for corporate and expat clients. After the epidemic, I was forced to return home. I made the decision to return to the UK to be closer to my parents, but having glimpsed a career as a professional florist, I didn’t want that dream to end.

I spent the 2020 lockdown at my kitchen table developing my business Ollie & Ivy Flowers (ollieandivyflowers.com) – creating a website and branding, and leasing a studio space to work from so I could start taking online orders.

It was terrifying. When the world closed, I wondered if it was crazy to start a new company and invest my own money. However, I refused to give up on academia and kept going.

Last August, I purchased my first Edinburgh property. We now have four employees and clients that range from small businesses to 5-star hotels. A dream comes true to be able to earn a living doing creative work.

‘The family I’ve lost would approve My new path’ 

Sharon McLean: 'Now my job satisfaction comes from knowing I’ve played a part in celebrating someone’s life, and making their sendoff as stress-free as possible for their family.'

Sharon McLean: ‘Now my job satisfaction comes from knowing I’ve played a part in celebrating someone’s life, and making their sendoff as stress-free as possible for their family.’

Sharon McLean (51), is an IT consultant and funeral director. She lives in Romford with Paul, her husband, and their two sons Max (9 and Harvey (7). In 2014 I was 45 and working as an IT consultant in banking. I had no intention of doing anything different until the loss of four close family members. In less than a year my parents, along with my younger sister and niece, died.

Planning four funerals in 18 months opened my eyes to the fact that, at their most vulnerable, people weren’t always receiving the high standard of care they needed from the industry. As a family we experienced my mum being placed in the wrong coffin, the funeral director not having enough pallbearers to carry my dad’s coffin, and other disorganised glitches, which added to our stress at a time when we just wanted to grieve.

Late 2015 was the year that a seed was planted in my head. If I’d had these experiences and been left feeling dissatisfied, others had too. I believed I could do better.

I didn’t know the first thing about becoming a funeral director but knew I could learn the practical side of the role – I already had the emotional experience and compassion. I did worry that my mid-40s was too old to make such a change; after all, I had a job, I wasn’t being made redundant, I was able to provide a good lifestyle for my family. However, it was so important to me that I tried.

Because we required my income, I continued to work in IT. In the evenings I set up a business, created a plan and rented an office. I made connections with funeral car and coffin suppliers in London. There’s no formal training needed to become a funeral director, but I had so many transferable skills, especially my admin and planning experience. At the end of 2015, I quit my job and launched Integrity Funeral Care (integrityfuneralcare.co.uk) and the following year my husband Paul, who worked as a manager for Network Rail, joined me.

This industry isn’t for everybody. It takes compassion and emotional strength to work in this industry.

Now my job satisfaction comes from knowing I’ve played a part in celebrating someone’s life, and making their sendoff as stress-free as possible for their family. I know the family I’ve lost would approve of me taking this new path, motivated by compassion for others.


‘Age gave me the maturity to take a leap of faith’

Sam Carbon: 'Today around 60 per cent of my clients come from the corporate world. They know I have an understanding of their environment, the pressures, the politics – I was once one of them.'

Sam Carbon: “Today, around 60% of my clients are from the corporate sector. They know I have an understanding of their environment, the pressures, the politics – I was once one of them.’

Sam Carbon (51), studied to become a psychotherapist and worked as an administrator. Her partner Kevin (60), lives with her in Northwest London. My mum might have thoughts about what I am today as a professional psychotherapist, with my degree and my own private practice. When she died in 1999, I worked in admin in London’s financial centre. I think she’d be amazed by the changes I’ve made to my career since then, and very proud. Following my O-Levels I started working in the admin department of a bank. Over two decades, I was a City worker. My role was to manage the diaries of 17 traders and organize their travel.

I had a very stressful job and my colleagues often came to me for help. They wanted to share their personal and professional worries. I’ve always been someone who’s enjoyed listening and helping, and in my spare time I volunteered for Victim Support and an HIV charity.

At the time of Mum’s death, I was only 30 years old and she was 52. The death was shocking and devastating. To help with the shock and loss of my mother, I went to therapy. I realized that I was a better person when I grew older and wanted to continue the same discipline that helped me so greatly.

However, life got in the way and I was scared of the idea of attending university for the first-time in my 40s. I also had financial responsibilities – I couldn’t afford to leave my job to become a student.

2010. I made the decision to take up study to obtain a master’s degree in transactional analysis psychotherapy. While working full time, it was also a good idea to do so.

Every weekend I was able to attend classes. Each week, I also studied at home. Weekly practical placements were done at a rehab center for people who are recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. When I received my diploma at Middlesex University’s graduation ceremony in May 2015, it was proudly that I walked onto the podium. It’s a moment that I remember vividly.

I went on to quit my job to set up my own practice (samanthacarbontherapy.co.uk). Around 60% of my clients are corporate workers today. They know I have an understanding of their environment, the pressures, the politics – I was once one of them. My communication skills and listening abilities from my previous career were invaluable for me in starting my business.

I was able to trust my gut instincts and take a leap of faith because of the wisdom that came with age. It was then that I realized I could achieve what I desired. Today, I assist clients in career transitions and help them to break the myth that a job is permanent. I teach them there’s always scope for change – just look at me.

How do you? Switch careers 

 By Eleanor Tweddell, career coach and host of the Another Door podcast

  •  List all the skills and achievements you’ve acquired in your current role – seeing them written down will boost your confidence and help you take on a new challenge.
  •  Ask yourself why you want to change career. Thoroughly research whether it will deliver what you’re hoping for. Your ‘why’ will be what motivates you to make the change and stick with it even during challenging times.
  • Make sure to plan ahead. But how will you find the right job? Do you need a qualification? Training? Are you going to need financial protection before quitting your current job? Plot your route from one career to the other and accept it won’t be linear.
  • You can write your way to that job. You are your CV. Highlight the skills you have gained in previous roles. You have so much more to share, and a deeper story.