J.K Rowling published her first Harry Potter book at 32, as a single mother living on welfare. Jack Ma only began Alibaba when he was 30, after countless job rejections and failing school repeatedly. They are examples of the many successful individuals who reached their true peak in their second careers or later, finding success only in their 30s and beyond.
The failures, experiences and growth that come only with age, are what fuel truly sustainable success. In fact, more than gender, position or job experience, one’s age is what impacts work approaches and management styles the most, according to studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). We examine how age affects one’s outlook, and how these new perspectives can help in a career refresh.
A lot of key personal developments happen in our late 20s to 30s, including truly coming into one’s own as an adult by developing the skills needed for daily living, and understanding who we are in strengths and shortcomings—what we want from life. According to the MIT study, this means that we tend to become more conscious of our mortality, and reflect more on our place in the world.
This leads to an emphasis on empathy and greater reliance on intuitive and holistic techniques in dealing with others, being more inclined to listen carefully and intensively. This more considered and thoughtful approach to those around us can be parlayed into impactful work as a Social Worker or Therapist, where these skills and qualities are paramount.
Carol Chew who made the switch from being a human resource manager to become a social worker in 2015, shared: “People increasingly want a job that not only grows you professionally, but also touches lives.”
Getting the best out of one’s team is something that becomes far more essential in one’s work approach, as we age. Being surer of our personal strengths, there is greater acceptance of oneself, and thus a shift in emphasis to our relationships with others in the workplace.
With greater awareness of how our actions impact others, we begin to favour approaches that consider the view of many, working to build coalitions among peers, according to the study. One is thus more likely to focus on personal rather than technical solutions when working with others, valuing giving effective one-on-one feedback and performing post-completion project reviews. This collaborative approach is ideal in a Project Manager. With industry or working knowledge already developed, our time management and ability to delegate can make work more efficient and purposeful.
Unlike one’s halcyon twenties, your 30s also mean becoming more reflective and learning from setbacks. The MIT study also revealed that greater significance is now placed on recognising a company’s core competencies, which helps one to see the larger-picture in strategic thinking.
We are more positioned to accurately analyse a business’ overall strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats with less personal bias, and combined with better overall competency at work and a broadening of networks, becoming a Branding Consultant is a highly viable option in any field.
In fact, Ms Jovian Koh who co-founded consulting firms, Coaching Go Where and Barrage Vision, credits her frequent job switches with providing her the breadth of experience needed to start her own consultancy. “People underestimate the power of transferable skills in changing jobs or careers”, she shares.