What took you into Financial Planning to start with?
I was working for a bank, in customer service, and after promotions to supervisor roles, my boss suggested it was time to think about my direction within the company. At that point, I given the choice between either the Lending or the Financial Planning path. As no-one had really heard much about Financial Planning then – certainly not in my circles – I decided to go with Lending training.
I found I really didn’t like it and was beginning to look at moving back into the city, but my boss didn’t want to lose me and suggested I should do Investment (Financial Planning) training, so I went and did the preliminary program – and was hooked. From there, I went to on to work as a Personal Banker, Investments.
Were there any bits of it you did enjoy?
I was very good at it, especially explaining complex things in a way that made sense to the people I was helping. Sometimes you’d have to explain something 3 or 4 different ways, but then the customer would have that ‘aha’ moment, which was really rewarding.
I also really enjoyed helping people and being able to make a positive difference. Back then, banking was not about sales, but genuinely about helping people.
When did you realise you needed to make a career change?
When banking changed. I remember sitting in a Friday morning sales meeting, realising that this wasn’t about helping people any more – it was all about sales pipelines. Likewise, working with a customer, I remember thinking, I need to wrap this meeting up, I’m not going to get a sale here… and I disliked that feeling. I didn’t have the language then, it wasn’t conscious, but it went against my values. I decided I couldn’t do it any more.
What steps did you take from there?
I left the bank and took a career break first. Then, later on, I was offered a role in a Financial Planning business, helping the Business Development manager to organise managers and schedule seminars. The role involved educating customers about financial services in a broader way, and from there, I became a seminar presenter as well as building seminar content. When the company changed and wanted to move me into a position in marketing, I paused and asked myself some questions. When I looked at who I’d be working with and what I’d be doing, I I went back to what motivated me at work and my values – and asked for a redundancy instead.
From there I picked up essentially the same seminar presenting role in a new organisation… and that’s when I was approached by the Head of Learning and Development (L&D) for a 2IC position, as a custodian of the Leadership and Coaching program. They knew I had a love for L&D and the job description fit me perfectly. They sold the position to me as a move from educating our members directly, to educating the people who talk to our members, which was exciting. It tapped into my people skills – particularly my ability to get people on board and influence people (something a past manager had commented on), as well as my organisational skills.
I went on to complete a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, as well as a Certificate IV in Workplace and Business Coaching, and one in Frontline Management. I also got my MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) certification and completed the Science of Happiness at work program. It was a high learning curve and a time of real personal and professional growth – learning to get the best out of myself and out of others.
What things were most helpful in changing career?
Working with a coach. You need to work with someone that gives you the space to think out loud and to spend some time being introspective. I also did a self coaching module which focussed me on what I loved doing, what a ‘perfect’ day would look like for me, and what I’d get out of bed to do if I wasn’t being paid and there were no obstacles… You need to pause and do that thinking.
Talking of the ‘red thread’ (the theme that runs through and connects the dots in what you enjoy): for me it was education. I’d dabbled in staff training early in my career and I remember looking at the training and facilitation space and thinking, I want to be here. I love teaching, mentoring and uplifting people, working at a big picture level.
What kinds of things held you back?
Fear of failure, which is really normal. I also felt greedy at times – I had a good job at a good company, and wondered if I wasn’t wanting too much.
Sometimes I was also a bit “Stepford” in my thinking – I was worried about what my partner or other people would think. As someone who didn’t go to university when I left school, I had a bit of Imposter Syndrome at times. Even with my experience and even though I knew I was good at what I did, I had this fear that one day in a meeting, everyone would somehow whip out their degrees and realise that I didn’t belong there.
Tell us about what you’re doing now?
I’m custodian of the Leadership and Coaching Program; the face of the program. I schedule training programs for the following year (my Department trains across areas) and I work through all the expressions of interest for training, shortlisting and choosing candidates.
I design and deliver a range of training programs, including the Cert IV in Workplace and Business coaching, the Cert IV in Frontline Management and a Cert III for Emerging Leaders. This involves liaising with RTOs (Registered Training Organisations) and external providers to ensure that content’s modified to incorporate the business brand, values, language etc., as well as checking assessments or overseeing this process.
I also write and run one-off, customised workshops – including team-building and MBTI workshops – and speak on leadership and coaching, creating internal artefacts to build on and reinforce the coaching model within the organisation. To maintain coaching awareness in the business, I run monthly communities of practice for people who’ve gone through the program.
What advice would you give people thinking of making their own career change?
I would say trust your instincts – listen to your gut. If you’re considering it, your gut’s telling you something; don’t drown it out with fear and ‘what-ifs’. Every time I’ve made a change, it’s terrified me but I’ve done it… and come out happier and stronger, so back yourself. And if it doesn’t go exactly to plan, so what? Dust yourself off, pick yourself up and try again. More often than not, it does work out and no amount of money can beat doing something you love.