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8 inspiring examples of late life career changes

Once upon a time, choosing a career and sticking to it was considered a rite of passage for most twenty something year olds. But now, times are changing. Fuelled by a new generation of millennials, mixing up career paths has become the new nine to five. They’re called ‘boomerang’ employees, and are quickly forging a new era of corporate culture.

And just because you may be well into your forties or fifties, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be a part of the movement. Hey, even if you’re retired you might like to draw inspiration from some of these self-starting entrepreneurs who completely transformed their careers late in life.

So, who’s on our list? From celebrity chefs and fashion goddesses to corporate CEOs and self-made entrepreneurs, we’ve got the scoop on some of the world’s most inspiring late life career change stories.

Julia Child

Endearing and downright fabulous, it took Julia Child quite some time to establish herself as the queen of French cooking. Back in 1961 she launched her first book, which saw America fall in love with French fare. But before she was whipping up soufflés Julia worked in advertising, media and even had a brief stint in secret intelligence.

Martha Stewart

Up until the age of 25 Martha Stewart was pursuing a full time modelling career. But when work dried up after she became a full-time mother, Martha turned her hand to stock brokering on Wall Street. After a short spell on the New York stock exchange she decided to follow her passion for gourmet food and kickstart her own lifestyle brand. Today, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is valued at more than US$400 million.

Harland Sanders

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that KFC is a global fast-food icon. It was founded by Harland Sanders (better known as Colonel Sanders), who held down a string of odd jobs over the years. From a country lawyer to a gas station operator and railroad worker, he was a man of many trades. Turns out, chicken was his most lucrative foray. He franchised the company when he was 62, and sold it 12 years for a cool US$2 million. Big bucks at the time!

Michael Bloomberg

Famous as the CEO of financial software, data, and media company Bloomberg L.P, this 59 year old decided to shake things up back in 2002. He successfully ran for the position of mayor of New York City, which he held down for 12 years. If you’re passionate about your community why not take inspiration from Bloomberg and consider getting involved with local groups or political parties? Who knows, it could lead to a career in local politics!

Jonah Peretti

Heard of Jonah Peretti? In his 30s he launched viral media sites Buzzfeed and The Huffington Post, which made him millions. But before he became an internet icon, Peretti was working as a computer science teacher for middle-schoolers.


Vera Wang

Synonymous with dreamy bridal gowns, Vera Wang is one of the biggest names in the fashion industry. But amazingly, it wasn’t until the age of 40 that she launched her brand. Previously she was a figure skater turned journalist, though she admits she’s always loved the fashion runway.

Sara Blakely

If you don’t recognise the name, Sara Blakely is the billionaire founder of US shapewear brand, Spanx. You may have seen them work a miracle or two on your love handles over the years! But until she got her brand up and running at the age of 30, Sara was a door-to-door office supplies saleswoman.




J.K Rowling

Now recognised as one of the wealthiest women on the planet, J.K Rowling is an inspiring ‘rags to riches’ story. Over the course of her life she’s endured all kinds of trauma, from losing her mother at an early age to struggling as a single mother. Not to mention a miscarriage, a broken marriage and a dark battle with depression and suicide. But despite all that, she finally scored a publishing deal in 1997, when she was 32. This is despite getting rejected over and over again by publishers who claimed that Harry Potter simply wouldn’t sell.

Are you thinking of starting a new career path late in life? Or maybe you have a success story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you, so get typing in the comments box below!