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Never too late for a new beginning;  Previous generations started thinking of retirement, travelling and being grandparents after their 60th birthdays but these days you see many women over 60 still exercising, looking better than ever and in good physical shape.  Mentally this group has also had to make the adjustments to a digital world with smart phones, apps for almost everything and online shopping.  It is therefore no longer strange  to hear of a person over 60 embarking on a new career.  It’s never too late for a new beginning, a career change or new opportunities.

One of the SACBW members, Martha Venter, is such a person and an inspiration to many of our younger members.

Who is Martha Venter?

Martha describes herself as “a middle-aged businesswoman and entrepreneur, happy to have had a terrific life, filled with wonderful career opportunities and experiences.”  Martha’s career life took some interesting paths, including that of Deputy Mayor of the City of Tshwane (then Pretoria).  Like so many of us, Martha was encouraged to find a job after completing her studies.  The older folks believed that, once you have found a job, you stay there and ‘grow’ in that position to secure your future.

“Unfortunately, I am one of those stubborn and restless people that cannot be content in one situation for longer than 5 years.  Believe me, this led to numerous amazing opportunities, where I met wonderful people that influenced my life in many ways.  All with highlights as well as lessons learned”, says Martha.

The advantage of having this attitude is the experience gained and developing of many talents and gifts – something for which she thanks our Heavenly Father every day.  “Even the fact that I do not have enough saved to fall back on at this stage, I see as an advantage – I can never be idle”, says Martha.

Another chance at success

At the age of 62 Martha received an offer from a well-known funeral house (AVBOB) to manage one of their branches for a period of 4 years.  Where at first she felt unsure about her decision to accept this offer, it all turned out well for her. “In this field I have had more opportunities to meet up with special people, whilst living one of my passions – to be there for people in sad and hard times – and another passion which is to manage and put workable systems in place” Martha explains.

She admits that it was a challenge to master technology and learning new systems.

“Lucky for me, I was guided by God to appoint the best employees, who managed to keep me standing.  Together we have built a branch that is strong, with good systems and a strong track record in place,” says Martha. I also deliberately chose to leave a legacy by preparing my staff to reach their goals. She explains that her dad equipped her to be a leader, to support others; to give back and to never give up.  “To never give up is also a wonderful legacy of my mother, still working as social worker at the age of 89”, says Martha.

The Future

Martha’s current contract ends on her 65th birthday in 2022.  “Whilst my classmates retire one after the other, I am super excited and busy putting together plans for my next career – and looking forward to making new friends and learn more!  I am blessed with a positive attitude and promises from God’s Word that He wants me to prosper and live life to its fullest”.

How to change careers later in life?

According to it is good to make a change in career later in life as it offers you the opportunity to explore other fields you did not have time to explore previously.  Knowing that you were able to change and work in all the fields you were interested in over your lifetime can give you a feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment. Change gives you a renewed mindset and it may help you find greater job satisfaction in your career and overall work life.  It also prolongs your career, provides greater financial stability and peace of mind. Since you are at a more senior stage in your life you no longer have student loans or school fees to pay, you can now follow your preferred career path that provides a stable income but not accompanied with the stress of a high-income position.

Here are some guidelines on how to make a career change later in your life:

  1. Find you passion – do something that motivates you. Do something that fits your personality. Be happy.
  2. Be realistic – set some goals for yourself in this new environment that you will be able to achieve. Remember, you have nothing to prove to anyone anymore; you can work hard and be successful without competing for top honours.
  3. Keep in mind that if you do not need others to reach your goal, the goal might not be challenging enough.
  4. Grow your network – expand your network, stay informed about developments in your chosen industry and introduce yourself to new opportunities.
  5. Talk to people in the chosen industry  before making a switch or taking on a new career –  familiarize yourself with the challenges and circumstances you will be faced with in your new position. We all know that opportunities sometimes look better from the outside than what they really are!
  6. Test some of your perceptions and ideas with people in the industry – this will help you to grow in your new position.
  7. If you are unsure about a new career, consult a professional to help you find something worthwhile.
  8. Seek support from friends and family – they know you best and will be able to give advice and support. They will help reduce the stress as you start out your new career.
  9. Consider a part-time contract or volunteering so that you are not tied down by the new career. You may want to travel, or even leave the company if you find that this is not a good match.
  10. Ensure that you have an up-to-date resume to offer potential new employers. Experience and expertise are sought after and will make your resume stand out from the rest of the applicants.

In short, it is perfectly fine to have more than one career over your lifetime.  The most important part is to stay flexible, stay mentally fit, be positive and be informed!

Martha’s motto is a saying by Oliver Wendell Holmes:  “Old age is always fifteen years older than I am” and that should be an inspiration to us all!


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