Cast you mind over these three women: Martha Stewart, Victoria Beckham and our club’s namesake, Madeleine Albright. What’s the common factor? Hugely successful career pivots that saw Stewart switch from being a stockbroker to setting up a catering business in her 30s, Beckham hanging up her mic for a career in luxury fashion and Albright becoming a diplomat in her 40s, following an early career as a journalist.
While 50 years ago workers would likely be in a job for life, today everything is more uid. According to a recent study by InHerSight, an online platform that supports women at work, a massive 73% of American women are interested in changing careers. It’s not just the US: a separate study by the nancial services company Investec found that half of Brits were planning to change career in the next ve years. Liz Ward, founder of Slick Pivot, who describes herself as the UK’s rst “pivot coach”, says a pivot is a “mindset”. “It involves looking at what is going well and where you’re experiencing areas of tension, which is where you start looking to make changes, be they professional or personal.” Bear in mind that pivots can come in all shapes and sizes. It can mean a complete career U-turn, from pastry chef to personal trainer, or it could be slight tweaks: a different role in an organisation you love, from HR to marketing, or upping one aspect of your job so that it becomes your main focus. In the head of communications taking on the company’s newsletter to feed their creative drive, for example. “Women can choose a part of their role or skill set that they already love and make the most of it,” says Karen Meager, founder
of training and consultancy company Monkey Puzzle (monkeypuzzletraining. co.uk) and author of Real Leaders for the Real World, says. “ is also means they do not need to ‘leave behind’ all of their previous experience, which can be hard to do psychologically when you’ve spent years training for a profession."
Not only is the pivot becoming more popular, but it’s also becoming essential to women’s professional development. According to the InHerSight research, the top three reasons women wanted to change careers were the need for more pay (32%), a need to do something they believed in (16%) and, most worryingly, experiencing burnout (13%). Meager believes that a career pivot can tackle this: “It can help prevent burnout in particular because you are focusing on an element that has a lot of meaning for you, that meets your values.”
Part of the benefit of pivoting is that you can tweak your job to suit your own dreams. Indeed, in a separate survey by US nancing company Guidant Financial, the main reason female entrepreneurs in the US set up their own businesses was to pursue their own passion. And while setting up your own venture can de nitely help with work-life balance in the long term, Meager cautions that, in the short term, it doesn’t always help. “A lot of businesses fail in their rst few years, so unless you already have something scoped and up and running, be prepared to put a lot of time and energy in, especially at the beginning.”
It makes sense to make the change now. A report from US commercial real estate services and investment rm CBRE estimates that more than 50% of current jobs will be replaced as technology and arti cial intelligence change the way we work over the coming years. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing - Ward says technological advances mean “we can build businesses and create lifestyles to live the life we want”. What’s more, she says, new working patterns (including exible working) can help too, giving us “the ability to really curate our lives in the way we want”.
Ultimately, the time has nally come for women to step into the entrepreneurial spotlight. In the US, four out of every ten businesses are owned by women, with female-led businesses having grown 58% from 2007 to 2018, according to data from Guidant Financial. “Women leaders are often perceived as more trustworthy than male leaders and this is an advantage if looking for investors,” Meager says. All you need to do now is make that pivot.
So, the burning question is how to do it. Ward believes in giving yourself time to dream. “I often suggest to clients that they write down their perfect day almost like a future diary entry - what would you be doing, both personally and professionally, what environment would you be in, what would be happening?” From there, it gets even more creative: “Create a physical vision board and turn your words into pictures,” Ward says. “ ose visuals guide your unconscious mind towards change.” Ward says you should forget the grand reveal, or, as she calls it, the “ta-da moment”. “I say, start small so that you avoid the fear of failure and tell yourself that this is the pilot period. If you don’t feel that you’re committing to it forever, it allows you to experiment and removes the risk.”
Her nal tip is to build and grow your support network, both with supportive cheerleaders that you already know, and other people who are going through their own pivots. “People with a pivot mindset can really fuel each other,” she adds. Finally, nd your inspiration. ese women are just the ticket...