Q: What is your advice to prolong the careers of women beyond the ripe old age of 40?
A: When I was in my early thirties, a senior woman in the media industry, who was a decade older, warned me to “enjoy the ride because women become invisible at 40”.
To be honest the advice scared the hell out of me and made me determined for that not to happen to me. I had been working to a career plan already, but that reality jolt made me revisit the plan.
My career strategy has focused on diversification and innovation in order to differentiate from the pack and achieve promotion and longevity. Since receiving that handy nugget of advice, I completed an MBA, ran two pure-play digital media businesses, gained a decade of experience as a non-executive director across a range of diverse industries and wrote a leadership book. All of those experiences made me a better media executive and served to differentiate my personal brand from anyone else in my industry. As a result I believe that my visibility increased for the decade beyond turning 40 and now as I stare down the barrel of 51, my profile in the media industry and outside of it is arguably the strongest it has ever been.
The best advice that I can offer, based on personal experience, is to diversify your career. If you have been doing the same kind of job for a decade then it may be time to try something new, either within your own company, in another company in the same industry, or even in a completely different industry that will value your skill set.
Most people stay in the same role, company, or industry out of fear. But is there any fear greater than invisibility?