Career Kickers

Liat Hughes Joshi finds out how three over-55s found inspiration to kickstart a new profession, proving that it’s never too late to begin the second act of your career.

With many of us remaining healthy and active for longer, abruptly swapping full-time work for full-on retirement feels more outdated than ever. Who says you have to stop earning and learning at a certain age?

In your 50s, 60s and beyond, there’s still plenty of time for a second career act, possibly in a field that’s entirely new to you.

Tim Latham, founder of Unretired, runs retirement planning programmes and says that, “for many over-55s the need to work for financial gain is diminished but the desire to contribute in a meaningful way is enhanced.”

He adds that you’ll maximise your chances of success if your new career is driven by a passion: “An over-55 feeling they ‘ought’ to do something is likely doomed to fail, whereas someone driven by a passion has more chance of being a winner.”

Here we seek inspiration from three post-55 career switchers.

Tricia Cusden, 71, from South-West London, waved goodbye to her job as a management training consultant to set up a make-up company targeting older women. She is founder of Look Fabulous Forever. We think she’s Ab Fab!

Ageing fearlessly: When Tricia Cusden couldn’t find make-up products suited to older ladies in the shops she decided to create and launch her own. (Photo credit: Simon Songhurst)

Jan Berman, 70, from Hertfordshire, used to be a fashion retail owner. Now she’s swapped selling hats for hosting tea party events as the proud co-owner of Tea Time Events. Mad as a hatter? No way, actually we’re curiouser and curiouser!

A family affair: For Jan Berman (right) and her daughter and business partner Emma (left) mixing family with business is working a treat.

Richard Miller, 61, from North London, made his mark in the music rights management industry, but a sports injury and personal loss in his life drove the decision to switch careers and launch his personal trainer business, Buddy Active. Music to our ears!

Going the distance: Richard Miller was thrilled to finish 7th place in his 60-64 age group at the 2018 European Middle Distance Triathlon Championships in Ibiza. Just one of his many international sporting wins last year.

What was your previous career and how did you end up doing what you do now?

Tricia:  I was a management training consultant and then in 2012, semi-retired, I set up a business selling makeup formulated for older women. Look Fabulous Forever now has a team of 12.The idea came from frustration with the beauty industry’s attitude towards older women. They seem to think we’ll only buy something with an anti-ageing label. I was happy being 65 but finding it difficult to buy makeup that worked on my face, which is now very different to when I was younger. I kept thinking ‘there must be other women who feel the same!’ Happily, so it has proved.

Jan: I began working for Mary Quant’s shop in the Kings Road. I‘ve always had an interest in design and millinery and eventually opened my own shop. I then started Tea Time Events, age 66, with my daughter, Emma and husband Jamie.

I’ve always loved vintage and vintage tea parties and the idea came from a discussion with Emma, who is a wonderful baker. I thought it would be amazing to combine my love of vintage with her passion for baking. It all came together at a time when I was looking to change direction. Now my life revolves around delivering fun tea party events.

Richard: I worked in the music industry for 40 years, including setting up my own rights management company. I’d always been into exercise but then a knee injury in my mid-50s meant I started going to the gym for rehabilitation. Then I began cycling and swimming. Around this time, two close friends died in their 50s, because of their lifestyle choices. I wanted to help others avoid that. I did my first triathlon and then my Level 3 personal training course, aged 55 in 2011.

How has your age strengthened your advantage? 

Tricia: I have authority and experience to draw upon. I was also pretty fearless when it came to launching using my savings. I only risked what I could afford to lose and thought ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’

Jan: As you get older, you get wiser. I was able to apply my experience from retail and design to developing the business. Also, being older, we had capital and savings, that we wouldn’t have had before and I have amazing support from my husband.

Richard: I felt at times on the course that others were looking at me thinking ‘really?’ Generally though, age helps. Most of my clients are 50-plus men in careers like architecture or law. I’ve been in business and understand life’s pressures and how time can be limited for exercise.

What are your tips for later life career changers? 

Tricia: Mitigate financial risks. I knew that I mustn’t risk the roof over my head, as I wouldn’t have time to earn the money back at this age. Had I been younger I’d have used more of my own capital.

Jan: Past experience and knowledge are powerful tools but don’t go into it with an arrogance of age. Younger people can teach you a lot and give you even more experience, especially with social media and online activities.

Richard: Personal training has taught me the importance of goal setting. Look six to 12 months ahead and work at small steps to get there. And stay flexible – see how your idea works out, what you enjoy and be willing to change track if needed.