6 steps to changing your career path

Have you ever felt as though you are limited by your job title and description? Perhaps you have lost motivation and feel like you can’t leave due to lack of previous experience? We have interviewed two incredible women who have proved that is very possible to redefine and customise your own career pathway at any stage.

Fiona Whitworth is currently the Head of Strategy at Queen Victoria Market – a role that was non-existent before her arrival. Fiona graduated the University of Melbourne with an Honours degree in Fine Arts. She has since thrown herself at every interesting job opportunity that has presented, even those seemingly unrelated to her previous study.

Terase Davidson is the Founder of Taste Byron Bay, famous for her humble and delicious Salted Caramel Sauce. Terase made the move from a high intensity international corporate role when she realised the first thought she had upon waking each morning was, “How am I going to get to Byron Bay and follow my food dream?” These women share practical lessons learnt and tips for paving your own way: 

  1. Follow your passions

When moving between jobs ensure that the next opportunity stays true to your underlying passions and interests. Seek to make sure that the feeling doesn’t go away.

Terase advises, “Be sure to align yourself early on with brands that make sense to you and your core beliefs, as they become ‘part of your story’”.

Fiona has experienced an array of roles by following her key interests in people, culture and fair access to public spaces. Fiona’s passions have led her to attend a course in New York City to develop her expertise on markets and to pursue her intrigue through commencing a PhD in Public Cultures.

  1. Take risks

Don’t be afraid to try something outside of your comfort zone or beyond your current skillset.

When making her pivotal career change Terase decided, “At some point you just have to take a chance, back yourself and make it happen!” She continued this approach when creating her signature salted caramel sauce – “I dive in then work out how the heck I'm going to put it all together later”.   

Similarly, Fiona consistently takes risks throughout her career. In a world far from Fine Arts Fiona accepted a job at IBM around user-centered design and usability, unbeknownst of the imminent dotcom crash. Fiona didn’t let the fear of failure knock her down and later took another risk moving overseas to London. “I was nervous to see what was out there but I just need to try something different,” the result being a fundamental and life-changing job.  

  1. Stay connected

Maintain your professional relationships and connections. Be persistent and don’t be afraid to ask for help or for what you want.

Fiona has kept in touch with all previous employees and sought their help and advice during periods of change. Both her roles were a result of reaching out. Fiona always extends the same favour and sees great value in mentoring.

Terase reflects on her experience when launching a new company, “My biggest tip for taking what is essentially a leap of faith is to not be afraid to ask for help.” 

  1. Set big goals

Aim high so you keep pushing your boundaries to get there.

For Terase, her success roared when she “decided to give the Salted Caramel Sauce the attention she deserves, and focus on how to best penetrate the retail and food service market.”

Fiona’s audacious long-term goal in her current role is to list the Queen Victoria Market on the World Heritage List. “It’s something to strive for to have protection and recognition. The first step was to get it on the National Heritage list. 

  1. Challenge yourself

In every stage of life you have the ability to challenge yourself. Continue to do so in order to learn and grow, changing your future.

Fiona has a history of tackling challenging projects. She finds it keeps her motivated and attracts stimulating problem-solvers to her team. “Queen Victoria Market would be a much less challenging prospect if you didn’t have to care for its history and heritage. 

Terase challenges herself by ensuring she stays true to her core values of supporting local business despite economic costs, “It is sometimes more expensive to buy local, but I believe the flavour rewards of buying local products is totally worth it.”

  1. Be open-minded

Be prepared to try something new before you know whether you like it or not. Keeping a broad mind will allow you to think non-conventionally and larger than others, enabling you to shape a role to suit you personally.

Terase believes that in any job you need to “be prepared to consistently keep looking at your business model and how you can fine tune it, essentially you need to stay relevant and connected to your customers.”

Fiona had the same advice to pass on, “We need to get in touch with the customers needs and not stay in old thinking - it’s a challenging time for everyone. Here you have something that has had to reinvent itself collectively numerous times. There’s nothing new about change, it just feels scary and difficult now but it’s an inevitability of life.”

A recent study found that 50% of occupations today would be gone by 2020. So be brave, innovate your role and pave your own unique and motivating career path.

Great stories from two fearless women, and very inspiring advice. We should be constantly learning and evolving.

Great advice & another to add to the "don't be afraid to ask" is "don't be afraid to tell people you're interested in something new".