In this series, we profile real women who have made later-in-life career changes. They share what they’ve learned from their recent career reinventions.
WHO: Heather Storey, 53
WHERE: Toronto, ON
WHAT I DID BEFORE: Director of business development for financial services company
“My role was to support and train independent representatives who sold the company’s financial products. I would teach time management, and how to follow up and connect with customers: the soft skills. I also ran their recruiting events.
The company was bought, and we were restructured. I think [being laid off] is the springboard for a lot people who start their own businesses. As for me, I was always thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be really cool if I could pick what I wanted to do and go out on my own?’ It never seemed the right time, and I was always afraid to do it. So being restructured out of a full-time job was almost like a gift, because it gave me an opportunity to do something I’d been thinking about for a while.”
WHAT I DO NOW: Business co-owner: Training Brokers
“The idea of Training Brokers is connecting people to industry professionals. If a business – big or small – needs IT training, for example, my company will find a professional who has a background in IT training. Basically, my partner and I find people to support our clients’ learning and development needs. We have a pretty vast network of learning and development professionals across Canada.”
HOW I GOT THERE
“When I launched the company, the number-one thing I did was go into business with a partner. My specialty is different from his: He’s on the IT side of things and has access to a whole different set of potential clients. As a certified recognition professional (CRP), I’m more on the employee engagement and recognition side.
So, we sat down and brainstormed all the things we wanted to do and put together a website. Within a month, we got ourselves incorporated. We’re still very much in the early stages and we’re starting to see results.”
WHAT I’VE LEARNED
“I picked the right time to go into business for myself. My parents are older and need more support, so I needed the time flexibility. Plus, my kids are finished school and starting their own careers, so the timing was good.
In terms of the work, I’ve learned I love the creativity. I love working with clients and figuring out how to help them. It’s the thrill of sharing something really cool with someone, connecting them to something they need and haven’t been able to find.
At the end of the day, it’s not about money. I mean money keeps us going, but I truly am passionate about giving people the tools to shift work culture.”
WHAT I’D DO DIFFERENTLY
“One thing that surprised me was the cost of becoming incorporated and getting insurance. Also, we realized pretty quickly we didn’t have enough of a system in place for things like tracking expenses and creating invoice templates.
You get so excited about being seen in terms of getting your business name out there, getting your website up, and having business cards done. That’s all fun, but you need a system.”
“One of the best pieces of advice I got is, find people who are doing what they love. Go and talk to those people. Ask them questions about their work: What do they love about it, what works for them, what have let go of.
Talk to people you admire. Because you might find there’s something those people are doing you never even thought about.
And write stuff down — I think that’s huge. Just write stuff down every morning, or always keep a notebook with you and start noticing the things you love or really appeal to you. Start pulling all that together, and you might find you’re creating your own success story.”