Towards 50...Planning for The Future


As I head towards the big 5 0, there is a point you start to realize you are no longer the generation which is considered young, hungry and “technologically aware” of just how things will be done in the future. As per any business, people come and go and generally speaking when new senior management comes in, so does change… approach to market, skills required and personal! It’s happened for many years and will continue to do so. So, what do we need to keep in mind if you potentially find yourself in this position and/or you may want to plan ahead as life changes?

Please let me qualify first though, this is NOT about ageism, it is about shedding some light on a topic which can add value to a stage in our working lives.

Secondly, I’d refer to an article written in 2012; Redundancy. Not a Dirty Word ( . It is so common in the context of change that people should not be concerned with it, as an outcome, in terms of how it is perceived. The likelihood this will happen to most people during their careers has risen considerably. And with the onset of AI and machine learning……well that’s a whole new story

There are two main circumstances people can find themselves dealing with change. One is a manager of people which it is a slightly different proposition to that of an autonomous skilled professional.

If looking to stay in a role managing people then it may be worth turning your attention to entering the “agile” working environment using these skills. The following article ( outlines this in more detail but in short adding qualification in managing a scrum environment and bringing different groups of people together effectively is an avenue well worth considering. Essentially, it’s a move into project management or managing at a granular level day to day. This type of change is something which could be considered without building a new technical skill base, though it would require learning the way of scrum master and agile methods. You will still require your network to assist ideally, though you could open a new avenue you had not considered.

Another option (and this should be a given) is to build your capability in leadership and management to the point it is invaluable. The ability to manage people effectively and create change is difficult to find and if strong enough in this area, it can mean the difference between new opportunities look like. So prepare ahead. I would encourage you to either seek further training and development, now and really get to the heart of where you need to improve as a leader. It is often overlooked!

Given the way of the world and the millennial/Gen Y and centennial generations beginning to have more influence it is a good idea, whether managing people or not, to try and understand just what makes this generation tick whilst in your current company. They won’t necessarily have the people management skills; the work ethic may be different and they may not be great at communicating (according to you anyway) but it will certainly help you understand the audience that many businesses could be setting up for. More so, it’s life. Through pure evolution current managers need to be able to work effectively with new generations coming into the employment cycle. In terms of products, Fintech is a classic example of this. I don’t know many people at my age using “fintech” products extensively, though these products are more aimed at the mobile market and mobile generation.

In relation to people finding themselves in an autonomous skill based position, new skills and new markets is another alternative, though this one requires a slightly longer timeline. To be in a certain position one day and the next finding yourself looking to change careers through skills (e.g. think coding) is not realistic. This alternative requires a bit more thought and application though certainly not out of the question. That said though it could be incorporated into some time out, whilst looking or even while you are doing your current role. With the onset of data analytics, as per example, an individual with a strong market and commercial understanding, may start a career change with learnings in either SAS or an open source code such as a R to make this move. Using your potential strengths, you just may be in a potion to understand the most effect course of “data to useable information” over someone who simply is good at coding. This example is also viable with other vendor systems and implementations or technology change from a project management perspective.

The current employment market is hearing more and more about the concept of “The Gig Economy” and its effects on how work and skills are provided. It is certainly an option to consider and one way to start understanding this more so is researching and reading about it. A good starting point is the website, which has been created to help experts find opportunities in smaller timeframes moving from one “gig” to another. Taking your skills and applying them to a transient contract market can certainly suit many people.

Then there is the life changing, “starting your own business” moment. As a business owner, it has its benefits and attractions, though there are also plenty of obstacles and road blocks along the way! If this is a consideration certainly do your homework and begin thinking broadly about all the aspects of a business you have not covered in your career to date. Speak with business owners, your accountant and have someone pull apart all the assumptions you may have. It is exciting but equally may not be what you think it is.

The basic out take here is stay current, informed and potentially upskill now, before the pressure of time (and money) is upon you. The Gen X and Y crew can combine both years of commercial experiences together with an eye on the future. You could just find yourself in a strong position with a bit of forethought. The baby boomers are somewhat in a different position though, with time lines, depending on when you were born making things harder. If born in 1960, then at 57 years of age all of the above applies. If born earlier and closer to retirement age then the thinking could certainly be very different. That said it all comes down to planning, stage of life and application. The baby boomer generation is the most experienced of all generations and this shouldn’t be lost on people!