International Women’s Day (IWD) has become a global celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women for their economic, political and social achievements. This year’s IWD focus is #BeBoldForChange, which goes hand-in-hand with our quarterly content theme of Career Change and Change Management. Be inspired by women who embrace change.
Martha Stewart is the American Lifestyle Guru who rose to prominence as the author of books on cooking, entertaining and decorating. Part of her brand also includes the magazine Martha Stewart Living and a series of internationally broadcast TV programmes.
But Stewart began her career as a model and then moved into stockbroking, the profession of her father-in-law: “I had been modelling since I was 13; I had put myself through college with my modelling money and helped my family. My goal was always to get to Wall Street and learn about American business.”
Before founding the American intimate apparel company SPANX, Blakely worked as a Disney World ride greeter and then a door-to-door fax machine salesperson. She had initially planned to become an attorney, but reconsidered after scoring a low grade on the Law School Admissions Test.
Forced to wear tights in the hot Floridian climate for her sales role, Blakely disliked the appearance of the seamed foot while wearing open-toed shoes, but liked the way the control top made her waist and thigh area appear firmer. In her own words “it all started with a pair of pantyhose, some scissors and a bright idea.” SPANX became a household name, and Sara, an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs all over the globe.
Blakely is now the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, and in 2012, was named in Time magazine’s ‘Time 100’ annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. As of 2014, she is listed as the 93rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
Vera Wang was a competitive figure skater during secondary school and competed professionally throughout her teens with her partner James Stewart. She turned to fashion when she didn’t make the 1968 U.S. Olympic team. She found success quickly as a fashion editor at Vogue and was promoted to senior editor at the age of just 23.
After 15 years working at a magazine, and designing her own bridal gown, she decided to pursue her dream of designing bridal gowns. She is now arguably the most prominent designer of bridal wear in America.
4. Jessica Alba
Alba featured in films including Fantastic Four, Little Fockers and Machete. But after having children, she set aside her career to launch The Honest Company – a toxin free household goods, nappies and body care products supplies company, with business partner Christopher Gavigan.
“When I became a mum, I finally became the person I am, that I always should have been,” she says. “It’s the most satisfying job in the world. But, it can also be overwhelming and confusing. I created The Honest Company to help moms and to give all children a better, safer start.”
Ellen DeGeneres studied communications for one term at University before leaving to do clerical work as a paralegal. She entered the world of stand-up comedy, taking part-time work at department store J.C. Penney and waitressing at T.G.I. Friday’s until her career in comedy took off.
She relates much of her childhood and career experiences in her comedic work. In 1997, she came out as gay, and became a staunch advocate of LGBT rights. She has been the host of her own award-winning talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. In 2016, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.
“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.”
We hope you’ve found these career changes inspiring. Studying on a postgraduate programme with Kent Business School could support you in changing careers. We have many Masters programmes including MSc Marketing, MSc Business Analytics and our AMBA-accredited Kent MBA Programme. Find out more about Kent Business School postgraduate programmes.