The Forbes Over50 share their best advice for supercharging your career after 50
We spoke to five of the women on this year’s list to find out their number one piece of advice for other women who hope to start a business or catapult their careers after 50.
Evan Agostini/Invision/APAnna Maria ChávezAge 53 | Executive Director and CEO, National School Boards AssociationLast June, at age 52, Chávez was appointed to lead the nonprofit educational organization that represents the nation’s more than 50 million public school students. No stranger to nonprofits, she was an executive at The National Council on Aging from 2017 to 2020 and the CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA from 2011 to 2016.
Chávez’s best advice for supercharging your career after 50 is to not let fear be a barrier from making a change. “As women, we spend too much of our life before turning 50 being afraid of being criticized or having people disparage our decisions. If you’ve dreamed of opening your own business or going back to school to get a divinity degree, do it now,” she says. “Trust yourself and every lesson you have learned in your first five decades of life.”
If you haven’t loved the first decades of your career, Chávez says to pivot your role or make a complete career change so you spend the next five decades doing something you love.Fran Dunaway, cofounder and CEO of Tomboyx.Lindsey ByrnesFran Dunaway headtopics.com
Age 60 | Cofounder and CEO, TomboyXIn 2013, at age 52, Dunaway and her wife, Naomi Gonzalez, cofounded the gender-neutral underwear and loungewear company TomboyX out of their garage to make quality button-down shirts. In 2014, theylistened to customer requests
and made their first boxer briefs. The boxer briefs quickly became a best-seller and they pivoted to focus on bras and underwear now available in sizes XS to 6X. Last year, sales jumped 50% to $24 million. Dunaway’s best advice is to network and find a mentor, no matter your age.
“You’ve got great experience and maturity that companies need, so find access points to the industries you are interested in,” she says. “The more specific you are in your wants and desires, the easier it is to make the important connections you need.”
Cathy Engelbert in Phoenix on Sept. 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)ASSOCIATED PRESSCathy EngelbertAge 56 | Commissioner, WNBAIn 2019, at age 56, Engelbert was named commissioner of America’s oldest professional women’s sports league. It wasn’t her first big role after 50. In 2015, after nearly three decades at Deloitte, she was promoted to CEO. As she says, her “anything but linear” career path demonstrates the ways in which people can evolve their careers after 50. headtopics.com
“The opportunities come about because you can bring a significant amount of perspective, experience, and wisdom,” says Engelbert. “A career does not have to be a straight line forward or a relentless advance in one direction. In fact, pursuing a non-linear career will often allow you to find more leadership opportunities, develop new strengths and reimagine yourself.”
Gail McGovern in New Orleans on Aug. 27, 2015.ASSOCIATED PRESSGail McGovernAge 69 | CEO, American Red CrossIn 2008, at age 56, McGovern was selected to head the leading nonprofit emergency response and blood donation agency that delivers critical resources worldwide. She was tasked with using her decades of business experience, including leadership roles at Fidelity Investments and AT&T, to make the now 140-year-old organization more effective. Under McGovern’s direction the Red Cross has strengthened its finances and expanded its relief efforts.
“I’ve pivoted many times in my career and my advice to women – whether they are under 50 or more senior in their careers – is to pursue your passion, don’t get too hung up on how fast you are progressing, develop a network of colleagues and mentors and always push yourself to learn more. Most importantly, don’t fret about your age,” she says. “Age 50 is a time when you will be wiser, more experienced and better able to not sweat the small stuff,” McGovern says.
Miyoko Schinner in Beverly Hills, California on Dec. 2, 2017.WireImageMiyoko SchinnerAge 63 | Founder and CEO, Miyoko’s CreameryIn 2014, at age 57, Schinner founded vegan cheese company Miyoko’s Creamery from her California kitchen. Now she manages a 200-person team and her plant-based cheese and butter is sold in more than 29,000 stores. headtopics.com
Many women spend their lives taking care of loved ones and, in their 50s, may realize they have room to grow in their own personal and professional lives, Schinner says. If, like Schinner, there is something you want to start, jump in. Read more: Forbes »
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The Forbes 50 Over 50 Share Their Best Advice For Supercharging Your Career After 50We spoke to five of the women on this year’s list to find out their number one piece of advice for other women who hope to start a business or catapult their careers after 50.
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