Suzanne’s story #careerchange #retraining

Suzanne Aug 2013 Col low resYour Name and Age: Suzanne Newman, 38. Mum to Brock and Eva, aged 3 and 2. Founder of Red Balloon Mums,

How did you start your working life? I started out in advertising at the Racing Post, part of Trinity Mirror Media Group. Originally I thought I wanted to be a journalist but after a work placement realised very quickly that my skills lay elsewhere. It’s only recently that I have started writing again but in a very different way.

What training / jobs have you done in the past? When I moved into the full-on role of marketing manager for the Racing Post in my early twenties I quickly realised that I needed to undertake some training so did my Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Post-grad Diploma alongside my day job. I’d often head over to my friend Denise’s house where we ordered takeaway and drink wine while we studied, believing that we were ‘nailing it’ only to find that in the morning we had a huge hangovers and had forgotten most of what we’d read!

Why did you think about taking a new course? What made you chose this course? 15-odd years on, I have just re-trained as a professional coach and NLP practitioner. This time around it has been a vocational choice. After having children it became my purpose to find a career that came with higher levels of satisfaction, enabled me to make a difference to others’ lives AND gave me far greater flexibility when it comes to the children. Having been coached myself and undertaken a huge transformational journey on a personal level, I decided that life coaching was for me. My trainers have drummed into me the importance of finding the right niche. Since starting out I have decided to focus on coaching mums which feels incredibly right for me given the live stage that I am at and my own experience.

How has it been making the transition back to study? Tough! Especially given that most of my training was undertaken whist still working 4 days a week and with such young children. Some days I headed to the classroom exhausted. On one particular day, I had issues with the fitting of my new kitchen plus major problems at work and remember arriving in a bit of a state. My classmates were so supportive, and have remained so since, we keep in touch and it’s great to have that network around me. Home study has been amazing as I just love reading up on new topics and can lose myself in all the material that’s available to me. Slight problem is that I am often up late at night as once I start reading I can’t stop!  I’ll read on sites like or I’ll re-read notes from class relentlessly. 

What are the biggest challenges? Carving time out of busy family life to really focus on studying, especially when one of us is ill or my husband is away on business. Plus, getting into the right mindset for classroom study when there are problems at work or at home. I have to ask friends, family and neighbours for help (something that I can be really bad at) and be really strict with myself in order to get the most out of the time with my trainer.

What’s your favourite thing about your new courses?

Learning again, personal growth is a big thing for me. I’d been doing a job that I was comfortable in for some time so it’s great to push myself out of my comfort zone. I love the lightbulb moments when a topic suddenly clicks and I work out how I can combine what I’ve learnt into my work.

What’s the thing you least enjoy about it? The nerves before assessments!

How do you fit in retraining with other commitments – family, work etc? It just adds to the everyday juggling act! Support from my husband has been vital. At first he wasn’t convinced that it was the right time for me to retrain and change my career. However, since then he has said several times that it was absolutely the right thing for me and that it’s given me a real spring in my step.

Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment?  Tell us about it.  If not when do you think it will come When I secured my first client it felt so good! When my clients started to give me amazing testimonials it made me feel like I’d truly made it, I was overwhelmed by how much they said I had helped them. Launching my website and getting lots of positive feedback from my network was amazing too. The faith that my friends and family have in me has really fuelled my progress and I want to make them proud.

Where do you hope to be in five year’s time? Running my business with a network of coaches countrywide (at the moment I am focused on London).

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