In 1997, I moved from Brisbane to Sydney to finally work on a consulting project that I was both qualified for and interested in. I had been working for a global consulting company in the “Change Management” division, on a boring SAP implementation project. Only a year before I had finished my Masters Degree, and my thesis topic, which was pretty darn interesting for the time was “The impact of eCommerce on Marketing”. Having had no luck in getting on a eCommerce project, I finally met Campbell Macpherson at a training session, and figured out that he was the “person to know”. Not long after, I moved to Sydney and jumped on a fun project building the AMP website with Campbell and a great gang of people. I met his wife Jane and baby daughter, but it was not until a couple of years later, when I moved to the UK, and was able to stay with Jane and Campbell at their house, that I got to know Jane.
Fast forward 15 years! Jane is now working as a Yoga teacher, and I asked her to share her story about transitioning from the corporate world. I hope that if you are dreaming of a career change, that this blog helps you realise that anything is possible. Just follow your dreams, and doors will open!
From marketing strategy to downward facing dog
For nearly 20 years I was well and truly in the corporate world – Having completed an Economics and management degree, I steadily worked my way ‘up’ the corporate ladder and held various jobs in various industries – accountancy, advertising and promotional agencies, skipped over to the ‘client side’ to consumer goods industries and worked in banking and finance . I spent most of my twenties and thirties coming up with creative (well I thought so at the time!) ways to persuade our ‘target market’/’customer segment’/ ‘internal and external customer’ to choose a product or service over our competitors. I wrote more PowerPoint slides that were good for me ( or the people reading them), attended and ran numerous ‘away days’ and ‘team building’ exercises, read a plethora of management books, wore some great suits and shoes, met some wonderful people……. and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Until one day in London, at a particularly fraught meeting with some pretty senior banking colleagues, I had what I guess is a ‘road to Damascus’ moment. By now, I was married and had 2 amazing but exhausting toddlers and I was working part time at a major UK bank. Life was full on and I was feeling a little harassed having sorted out some issue concerning my daughter’s friendship issues – why is it that little girls can be so mean to each other? – telling one ‘best friend’ something and then turning her back on her friend when a better more dazzling friend comes along ( or probably in this case a brighter pink Barbie! Watching the little girls working out their relationships to each other, each wanting to make their mark, refusing to listen to the quieter ones, jostling for a better position in the class room/lunch queue/playground, I realised that work was becoming rather similar. I was sitting in a meeting where no one really cared what anyone else was saying, each person more concerned with their own story or issue and not really getting anything done! I started to get more and more cynical about my job and my reason for being there and this was not me – I have always been a positive person (some may say irritatingly so!)
Ok, I’m going to get all yogic on you now – the universe then stepped in. I had been practising yoga on and off for around 20 years and found it an ideal way to help some back pain stemming from a sporting injury and not made any better by childbirth and sitting in too many meetings. But there was more – it helped keep me calmer and able to cope with having a job and a young family ( by the way,’ having it all’ is not all it is supposedly cracked up to be!) So when I had had my Damascus moment, I started to look at whether I could train as a yoga teacher – with the far distant dream of giving up my job and teaching something I loved and believed…yeah right !– how was that going to happen – we had a huge mortgage and my husband was working for himself with all the trials and tribulations of an uncertain income and the stresses of running your own show 24/7. But I needed to do this and so looked and found a teacher training course in South London, enrolled and began studying…..
But then, lovely husband announced he had an exciting offer – a job in deepest Oxfordshire. A great opportunity to raise the kids in an idyllic spot, I could give up my now frankly tedious job – what more could I want?
I was not happy – Yes, I like walking in the countryside, fresh air and rural idyll scenes of my children frolicking with baby lambs – but what was I going to do? I could have still commuted into London but that was expensive, exhausting and I had 2 kids who needed their Mum helping them with a new school, friends, homework. I also of course did not want to continue with the kindergarten executive meetings – but I also couldn’t go to London for my yoga teacher training course. This course was I believed the best course I knew at the time – Up to 3 years of intensive yogic training with an internationally recognised qualification at the end of it. Where was I going to find one of those in the Cotswolds?
But I did move of course – and rather grumpily drove the kids down one very dark and rainy Friday evening to an equally dark and cold house in Oxfordshire. I was excited about a new home for us all and for my husband’s new job but did a terrible job of hiding my own disappointment ( and some panic) at my own situation. But here’s the universe again…I was reading a yoga magazine that weekend and saw a 2 line ad about yoga teacher training in a village about 15 minutes’ drive from our new home…and here’s the spooky bit – the teacher trainer was none other than the owner of the South London training centre – who had moved recently to the area. I rang her rather nervously (she is a legend in the yoga world) and she agreed to train me herself. That was 12 years ago.
Yoga teaching is the best job in the world. I love it. I get to meet the most amazing people – some of whom humble me, some who challenge me. Some who make me laugh and some who make me cry. All of them teach me something new. And this learning will never stop. 3 years ago I went back to formal study and qualified as yoga therapist working with people in chronic pain – mental and physical. I am in awe of the human spirit in times of intense pain and sadness. I am in awe of these bodies that we have and I despair at how we judge and criticise ourselves rather than accepting and loving ourselves. Yoga teaches me to be entirely present and to enjoy every second life has to offer me. I am so lucky and privileged to do what I do.
Many people ask me do I not regret following this yogic path earlier given I love it so much and my answer is always no. I loved being in the corporate world – but I knew then as I know now that this was not my true self. My time to be myself came when it was right for me and my family. I was just ready to listen and realise it.
And the best bit….. Not a PowerPoint slide in sight!
Jane is a senior yoga teacher and a registered member of the International Yoga Alliance (IYA 500 hours). She is also a qualified yoga therapist having completed a 2 year diploma in Yoga Therapy – one of the few recognised courses in the UK to be registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare council (an accredited register by the Professional Standards authority for Health and Social Care)
She teaches classes and workshops in the UK and Abu Dhabi. She also runs yoga retreats in the UK, Greece, Mallorca and India. For details of Janes upcoming yoga events please see her website www.janemacphersonyoga.co.uk Her Facebook page can be found here.