What does your work mean to you?

Money?  Security?  Freedom?  Personal development?  We find that we need different things from our work at different stages of our career and our lives.  A disconnect between what we want from work and what we are actually getting can be one of the reasons we end up feeling unhappy or unfulfilled. 

A great question to ask yourself is to think about what your job, work or career means to you, or what it gives you.

To help you with your thinking, here are 20 people’s answers to this question – gathered through my Social Media channels and my Career in the Spotlight blog posts. (I may have also sneaked myself in there too)! …… Continue reading

Career in the Spotlight: Scott Cupit (48, Director of Swing Patrol)

ScottThis week I interviewed Scott, who went from a career in banking to running one of the largest swing dance schools.  Here he tells us what helped him to make that transition, why he will never take his work for granted, and how, despite his success he is still not that keen on the limelight.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

My uncle, my grandfather and my father are all very successful Baptist ministers.  Because I was the eldest son, I assumed I was going to be called to be a Baptist minister.  So much so that I even went and studied theology at a college in Melbourne.  But to go down that path you have to really feel a very different calling, and I just never got that calling.  I just assumed that it what I would be for years.

And what do you do now?

I run a Swing Patrol club.  It’s a specialised dance school.  We specialise in teaching lindy hop and our number one focus is teaching people how to swing dance.  We have a big community and I am the head of all that, so it’s just managing the big family I guess. Continue reading

Career in the Spotlight:Helen Evans (35), Charity Director

This week I interviewed Helen, who tells us about how a coach helped her change her career direction, some creative ways to find out about alternative careers, and the challenges of balancing work with being a mother.

Helen EvansWhat has been your career path to date?

I started out by studying Philosophy and I wasn’t sure what to do, so I did a Masters in Philosophy, and still didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I temped in HR. It paid well and it was interesting work. I started off in a reward team for a venture capital firm and then moved into a generalist HR role for a management consultancy. Then I got a role as an HR Business Partner for a media firm.

At that point I just really paused and thought is this really what I want to do with my life? I’d realised I had just spent a few years going in a direction because it kind of happened, and whilst work was enjoyable and challenging, it just wasn’t as fulfilling as I wanted my work to be. Continue reading

Career in the Spotlight: Thierry Alexandre (30), Makeup Artist and Beauty Consultant

ThierryThis week I interviewed Thierry who tells us about his work as a makeup artist, why he wouldn’t change anything in his career and the importance of being coachable.

What did you do before you moved to England for work? 

I started working at the age of 14, in an apprenticeship in the catering industry – I was a pastry chef.  [In France] the system is slightly different than in the UK, it is half school half work. I knew from day one that that wasn’t the work I was going to do for the rest of my life, I was just keen on making money.

I did that and alongside this, I had another job working in clubs as a bar man. I was always in the environment of creativity and fine things. In clubs I was always hanging around with artistic directors or drag queens. And pastry is very fine and delicate. I have always been attracted to this kind of stuff. Something else came along – I became a personal assistant – something totally different. That came up from my friend who was the artistic director in the club, so he asked me if I could be his PA.

Then I moved to London. I thought I was going to be a secretary and a PA in London and I realised very quickly that you had to start from scratch especially learning the language. So I did work in a restaurant which I didn’t want to, but I had to. From there I had to sit down and think about what I really wanted to do. Continue reading

Career in the Spotlight: Matt Nolan (41), Creative Noise Maker Maker!

This week I interviewed Matt, silicon chip engineer turned cymbal and gong maker. Here he tells us how he made this unusual transition, what he has learned along the way, and how he ended up having dinner with Björk.

Matt Nolan

Photo credit – Andy McCreeth

What did you want to be when you grew up?

At junior school we were asked what we wanted to do, and I remember my best friend at the time said he wanted to be a bank robber, and I said I’d like to be the person that made his getaway vehicles!

What has been your career path to date?

So, after my degree in electronic engineering, I was 10 years in the electronic and silicon chip industry. Then, naturally I became a cymbal and gong maker! Continue reading

Career in the Spotlight: Jo Tocher, Holistic Stress Therapist

Jo TocherThis week I spoke to Jo, who has had, in her own words, a changing and evolving career. Here she tells us about how reading an article in a magazine changed her career direction for good, and the importance of going with your gut instinct.

Jo grew up in New Zealand, and had a dream to be a nurse, following in her Grandmother’s footsteps. When she didn’t get the grades she wanted, she was pretty devastated, but instead did a secretarial course, studied hotel management at night school and earned enough money, working in a law firm, to buy herself a ticket to the UK. She left aged 21, and after a period of temping and travelling around Europe, spent the next 6 years working summer seasons in Greece as a tour operator and rep, mixed with winters spent working at ski resorts, and on cruise ships in the Caribbean.

When she was in her late 20s, Jo questioned whether she wanted to be doing this for the rest of her life and wondered whether it was time to get a ‘proper’ job. She returned to the UK and worked in the city, which she enjoyed but found the corporate world exhausting. Wanting to start a family, she felt it best to leave that environment and started temping.

What was the article that helped change your career direction?

I read an article in a magazine about this woman who had studied aromatherapy at the Tisserand Institute, and as I was reading through it was if it was me, as I going yes, that’s me that’s how I feel, that is what happened to me, tick, tick, tick the whole way through. And you know, the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and you think I am absolutely going to do this. Continue reading

Career in the Spotlight: Jonnie Fielding (37), Tour Guide

JonnieThis week I interviewed Jonnie, who runs his own walking tours in London. Here he tells us about wanting to be a gnome when he grew up, the fact people don’t think he has a proper job, and how he hopes he will never retire….

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was in primary school we did that thing in assembly where you had to get up and tell everyone what you wanted to be when you grew up, and I told everyone I wanted to be a gnome, because I liked the idea of sitting by a pond, fishing and things like that. It hadn’t really twigged for me that it wasn’t an official occupation!

Briefly describe your career path to date

I don’t know if I would call it a career path but I know what you mean. As a description I would say quite random – a lot of accidents.

[After school] I did an art foundation which I never finished because I got an unconditional place at university. Then I did a lot of working – all the jobs I did were pretty much manual labour, either working in factories or warehouses. I basically worked for 6 months and then I just travelled round Europe going to art galleries which I thought might be more useful. Continue reading