They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but these go-getters suggest otherwise. Meet four adults who learned brand new skills to pursue a completely different career – despite the challenges. They’re proof that you should never stop learning…
Meet Rachael Monteleone
From professional dancer to managing director, Kiddipedia
What was the one thing or moment that made you decide you needed to change your career?
I was walking to work on a cold winter’s day in London, 2002, when I thought to myself, ‘When it’s my turn to become a parent, where am I going to go for help and information?’. With unlimited books, magazines and articles there wasn’t a way to find it all in one place, so I wanted to create something to take away the fear of parenting – to help and make a difference. For some people – myself included – your life’s purpose greets you at a time when you maybe aren’t ready to start. I’ve changed my career many times, but if I had to pick one thing that influenced my decision, it was the realisation that my purpose was to bring Kiddipedia to the world, and that I needed to learn new skills and lessons in order to get there.
What learning did you have to undertake to pursue your career change?
Becoming an entrepreneur has presented an endless list of business skills to learn. You start with an idea and your job is to actualise the idea into a tangible product or service in the real world. I’ve had to learn skills across lean start-up strategies, systemising businesses, digital marketing, communication and sales, management and leadership and am now looking to secure venture capital.
Did you enjoy the learning process?
Of course! If we’re not learning we’re not growing, and if we’re not growing… what’s the point? I don’t think we should isolate learning to a specific timeframe in our life. We never ever stop learning.
Do you think there were certain advantages to changing your career later in life, as opposed to when you were younger?
The more you know, the better you can be. My business idea greeted me 12 years before I was ready to start so it was always the ‘thing’ I was going to do with my life, but I was nowhere near ready when I was younger. The one thing I did have was the self-awareness to know I didn’t have the skills, knowledge, maturity, people skills and patience at that time. Had I started back then it would have been an absolute failure – it took me 12 long years of life lessons just to get me to the start line.
How has your career change affected your family, if at all?
As a start-up business, your to-do list is endless. We all only have 24 hours in the day, so time management is a critical skill to develop. Unfortunately, we have to make sacrifices and you soon realise you can’t be everywhere and doing everything. But applying routine can help – calling your loved ones at the same time every day, even just to say hello, or having family dinner the same time each week or fortnight. These things soon become non-negotiable. If you clearly communicate your vision and what it takes to achieve it, they will support you in the process.