My early career was in manufacturing. I used to sell banknotes around the world for what is now De la Rue. I then went on to EY in London, where I was a divisional director and responsible for culture change and management.
Then true love came along and I moved to Yorkshire. I married my husband and started Northern Lights – a PR and communications agency. We got into digital very early and the Business 2 Business market, so I have been blogging for ten years. I then became a BBC expert commenting on social media in the news. Six years ago we started operating Next-Up in Dubai – our first year’s contract came on my first trip by using LinkedIn.
About five years ago businesses started sending clients to Next-Up to get help with their LinkedIn profiles. These were often senior people who didn’t want to retire, wanted to find a non-executive director role and needed help to reposition themselves for work after a corporate life. A former accountancy partner said to me; ‘There is a spectacular lack of imagination as to what we might do in retirement.’
We are fitter and healthier than ever – and living longer. People can now spend longer retired than they did working. Some will want to garden, travel, look after grandchildren, but others feel they have so much experience and expertise that they want to share, they just struggle to offer it. Next-Up aim to be a hub for charities and businesses looking for help.
We provide the imagination, the contacts, tips and skills to create a fulfilling unretirement. We have events, workshops, guides and practical support – everything from CV writing and LinkedIn profiles, to refocusing a consultancy after a few years. A lot of people also want help to refresh their networks and win business from contacts.
I don’t have a typical day yet. It could start with mentoring someone leaving corporate life and helping them create a plan to turn their ideas into action. In the afternoon I could be recording an interview with inspirational American women – they are sharing tips for an online programme launching in October in America. Then a networking event and signing up a new member or two.
We have helped nearly 100 individuals over the last few years. From starting businesses, to becoming consultants, helping charities, becoming thought leaders – blogging and speaking, and to become non-executive directors.
I love seeing people transformed. People go from being in a really difficult place – some may even be mildly depressed – to having a new purpose, all through making ideas happen. One person rang me the other day and said she is so happy now and added Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ to the top of her playlist. What more could you want?
I am very upbeat and positive. But if someone is in a challenging place, it’s about finding the right balance between being empathetic and helping them get back on track.
We are starting to look at a model, setting up local groups across the country. Our first members have come from Bristol, Milton Keynes, Leicester to Sheffield and Newcastle. I would love to get them together but it is geographically challenging. I am working on this.
What’s your favourite part of Yorkshire?
I am torn between my home of Harrogate and the Dales
How do you relax?
I need creativity so I relax by gardening – I am obsessed with beautiful flowers; entertaining and baking. I make wedding cakes for friends.
What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Would have to be at home with my family, a walk, roast dinner and long chat.
Do you enjoy music and film?
I am a big classic music lover but I love Edith Piaf too, she has so much energy. My favourite film is The Intern with Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro. I only recently connected it to what we are doing – sharing the wisdom of an experienced generation with a young tech entrepreneur.
To start your unretirement head to www.next-up.com