Independent Director, Artist and Former Technology Executive
Have you spent your life working in the corporate world and longed to become an artist, a musician, a chef – explore your creative skills?
Julie England has done just this – going from an engineer and VP in Texas Instruments to becoming a recognized artist, exhibiting her work. And picking up a number of independent board positions along the way!
I have been interviewing and sharing tips from a number of women who successfully created second careers. They will be talking in more detail on the Prime Women second act program, due to be launched October 23, 2018.
It was particularly Julie’s transition from a corporate leader to an artist and painter that interested me. I know from helping people in my own business that many find themselves almost frozen when it comes to thinking what they want to do next – and how to make it happen. Too many don’t give themselves permission to dream and ‘go for it.’ Yet, as Julie says, we are generally fit and healthy in our 50s and 60s and there is plenty of time to learn, qualify, experiment, develop skills and start something completely new.
So where did Julie start? She had collected art starting in the 90s and at that time thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to paint when I leave corporate life?’
But when the time came to leave corporate America, as she puts it, she felt she had to nail getting independent board roles first. Once she landed her first two, “I gave myself permission to try an art class. (As an aside, Julie has been asked so often how she got those roles she has produced a short guide on her tips, Eight Steps towards a Board of Directors Seat)
The challenge, Julie says, is when you try something completely new, of course you are, “Totally incompetent at it. The hardest part was to give myself permission just to enjoy it and not focus on outcomes – which I spent my whole life doing.”
She joined a community college – and recommends this to anyone who is starting on something radically different. An unexpected challenge was to convince her professors she was serious about becoming a professional painter, not just a hobbyist.
I am interested in how people manage their personal brands at this stage of their life – when you have years at the top of your game in corporations, how do you switch people’s perceptions of you? You need to create a new brand, especially if you want to sell your paintings, as in Julie’s case.
Social media played a part in this, and Julie created a website Julie England Art and set up Facebook and Instagram accounts – for those new to social media, Instagram is very much about pictures and images, so is ideal for any creative.
Julie says the key way she built her new brand was to enter local, regional and national art competitions to get her work out there. The national competitions are particularly important because work tends to be juried by well known names – an example would be Jed Perl, the New York art critic.
And Julie’s final tip to get your new brand known? “Make sure you tell everyone! I have just been to a Dallas business networking event, and I tell everyone my new office is my studio in the Dallas Design District – come and have a coffee and see my work. You have to use all these opportunities to promote your work.”
Perhaps the best bit about starting a new career later in life is we now have the confidence to know who we are, who we want to work with and how to make this work. Julie says she was a great fan of the artist Mary Vernon and approached her for private art lessons, “She was very firm – I don’t teach privately – but you can join my classes at Southern Methodist University. So I did and it was a wonderful experience. If you admire someone, approach them – you never know what they might say.”
If you are still trying to shape your second act, can we help you? Prime Women is launching an online program – five 90-minute sessions over several weeks, with a small group of your peers. You will cover how to create a plan for a life on your terms and gain skills in personal branding, strategic networking, LinkedIn and more to make your plan happen. Click here for information and to book your place – this is limited to just ten women. You will hear more insights from Julie and other women who made stunning transitions – to become board directors, social entrepreneurs, a wine writer and even having a TV show!
We’ll show you how to use your skills and fulfil your dreams!
Written by Victoria Tomlinson, Next Up