Career-Changer Series: From Marketing to Coaching
This week, as part of my ongoing Career-Changer series, I spoke to career-shifter Ayesha Murray about her switch from a successful 20 year career in Marketing to training and starting out as a Coach and Mentor for working parents. Driven by a desire for flexibility and passion in her work, Ayesha followed her interest in developing others into the world of coaching and mentoring.
These interviews seek to share wisdom and advice from those who have taken the brave step of changing career, in the hope of encouraging and supporting those contemplating a career change to do the same.
1. What work were you doing before you changed career?
I had a successful career in Marketing for over 20 years, working in busy, high pressure environments. I also spent part of my career as a freelance Marketing consultant.
2. How did you know a change was required?
After having my first daughter, I went back to the 9-5, putting her in nursery 4 days a week. It was easier to go back to a job that I knew, and I didn’t feel like I could cope with a new baby and a career change!
Then, after my second daughter was born a few years later, I started to make changes by going freelance to give myself more flexibility. This was great for a year or so, but I soon found myself back in a large corporate, working less hours admittedly, but with the same pressure crammed into a shorter space of time.
With both girls now in school, I started to reflect on what I really wanted out of my career. I knew I wanted more flexibility, and I didn’t want to be the Mum shouting at her kids every morning because she was running late for the school run and then the commute (which I had become).
I also knew that my passion for Marketing was waning, but I had discovered a newfound love for developing and coaching the people in my team, which sparked a few ideas.
3. What helped you make the decision to finally do something about your situation?
I had a very supportive Manager, who understood that I needed to do something different. So, when a company restructure was announced, I asked for Voluntary Redundancy, which I got. I knew that was my chance to make a change.
4. How did you go about deciding what you wanted to do next/instead? What helped you make that decision?
As a Marketing leader, coaching was intrinsic to my management approach. I had a passion for helping people be the best version of themselves, but I didn’t realise at that point that I could turn that passion into a career.
So, to crystallise my thoughts, I started with research, looking at the kind of roles that existed in the coaching space, talking to experienced coaches, comparing qualifications and working out what the change would mean financially, and for my family balance.
When I understood all of that, I made the decision, comfortable that it was the right path to take.
5. What new career path have you chosen, and why?
I’m now an accredited Coach and Mentor, primarily supporting working parents facing a range of work/life challenges. Although you don’t need to be a parent to work with me.
I have clients who are on Parental Leave and feeling anxious about how their career is going to fit in with a new family. I have clients who are overwhelmed and looking for that elusive work/life balance, and I have clients who, like me, want to make a fundamental career change that allows them to have a better quality of life.
6. How are you going about or how did you go about changing careers?
I chose a coaching qualification that met my needs and started studying for that before I left my permanent job. That gave me some security, knowing I was still earning.
While I was studying, I expanded my coaching knowledge and practice by offering free sessions to people at work, which was of huge value to them, and gave me a steady stream of clients with which to hone my skills and approach.
I also became obsessed with LinkedIn! Creating a new network of coaches, joining coaching groups, and understanding more about my market was critical to hit the ground running. It meant that once I qualified, I already had a community I could tap into for support and potential new clients.
7. What’s been the hardest, most challenging, or unexpected thing you’ve encountered about changing career?
Without doubt, the hardest thing is coping with how long it takes to build up a new business, without feeling like you’re failing. Because I’d been in the corporate world for so long, and had plenty of experience, I assumed that whatever I started would be an overnight success. But, of course, that’s not the reality!
I had to build a new network, define the values and vision for my new business, approach marketing in a different way, and accept that it takes time to build up a reputation.
8. What’s been the best part about changing career?
The best part is waking up every day feeling passionate about what I do, and knowing that it’s on my own terms. Everything I do is to support fellow working parents like me, and that’s hugely rewarding. Especially when clients have a lightbulb moment and start to see truly positive changes in their life and career. It’s a privilege to be part of their journey.
9. What advice would you give to others considering or going through a career change?
Reflect, research, and have courage!
Reflect on your career at the moment - what works, what doesn’t? What do you want your ideal career to look like? What are you passionate about? What would really get you out of bed in the morning?
Research your options and your chosen path. Make sure you’re comfortable that you know the steps to get there. Do you need to gain a qualification or work experience? Do you know what the financials look like?
Have courage - it does take a leap of faith to change career, but if you have put in the research, then be brave. Nothing will change unless you make it happen.
10. What support, help, or resources would you recommend?
Definitely network within your chosen career space. Ask people for their insights and support. Get family and friends on board. Having your own cheerleading team, and having people to hold you accountable and spur you on, is invaluable.
If you’re considering a career change of your own, and Ayesha’s story has inspired you to finally take action, get in touch to discuss how working with Alice could help you figure out what you want to do instead, and how you can make it a reality.
Working with Alice has been incredibly valuable. I am equipped with useful tools and techniques that I can go back to time and time again, and the sessions gave me the space to discuss and talk through issues or concerns.