Meet 3 women who left major corporate roles to do their own thing

Meet 3 women who left major corporate roles to do their own thing

Meet three women who’ve left the corporate world after extensive careers, and are now at the helm of thriving businesses. Fi Bendall (pictured above) says they prove success is not linear. 

More and more professionals are abandoning the straitjacket of corporate life to become entrepreneurs

We’re seeing more people, women especially, become entrepreneurs after becoming either frustrated with the limitations of corporate life or inspired by the prospect of building their very own business.

We used to think of professional careers as a linear progression, starting as graduates and interns, progressing to middle management, and then hopefully to executive management.

However, in the past few years the idea of becoming ‘encore entrepreneurs’ has grown in appeal. People are waking up to the fact they can reinvent themselves as long as they have the will and desire to do so.

The security that corporate (and even public service) careers once offered rarely exists anymore. The global financial crisis was a massive wakeup call for a lot of people that you could climb the ladder and do all the right things but still end up jobless. In the meantime, it has also become a lot easier to start a business because the online and digital tools are there to make it happen.

All anyone needs now is a laptop, smartphone and an off-the-rack website and you’re ready to go. As long as you have the motivation and a product or service to sell, you can start a potentially successful business. That’s why a lot of professionals have said goodbye to the corporate grind and hello to the world of entrepreneurial DIY.

Three women who went out on their own

Janine Garner, Tara O’Connell and Ursula Hogben all had highly successful corporate careers, but each reached a point where the lure of the entrepreneur’s life became too strong to resist.

Janine Garner


“I was a corporate warrior until I was about thirty-nine. I never really set out with the intention to do my own thing. My intention was to build my own successful corporate career and I did that,” former marketing executive Janine Garner says.

Garner started up her business the LBD Group and her book It’s Who You Know: How a Network of 12 Key People Can Fast-Track Your Success has recently been published.

She was professionally content but hungered for more.

“My journey really was created out of a personal need and that was to connect with like-minded women and actually develop my intellect and smarts,” she says.

Tara O’Connell went from being the chief executive of a not-for-profit environmental group to starting a business that develops white label apps. Not really your standard progression. But she realised the skills she had developed could crossover and work in a different field. She backed herself and her idea.

“One thing you will never survive without is self-belief. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing no one else will either. It’s about being one hundred percent solid this will happen and you will succeed,” she says.

For lawyer Ursula Hogben, the pull to become an encore entrepreneur happened when she decided to re-evaluate her life in the light of having children.

“The trigger was I had children, twins, and going on maternity leave just gives you that time to think my life has significantly changed now, so what do I want to be doing from a work perspective?” she says.

“I really enjoyed my fifteen years in corporate law but my desire to assist small businesses was just so strong, that was the mental pull.”

Hogben left her high-powered role as a senior lawyer at a big city firm to become general counsel and practice leader at legal services startup LegalVision. From the outside, it could look like a risky move to go from an established law firm to a startup, but she was inspired by the energy of working with small businesses and startups.

Each of these women have in their own way forged a path that has veered from the tried and trusted ideas of career success. They’ve backed themselves to follow their ideas and dreams. They’ve joined many other people who are doing the same in taking control of their career, life and destiny.

This is an edited version of a story that first appeared on SmartCompany

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