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PIVOTING WELL - Reinventing yourself for a new career successfully.

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

We've heard about the expected career changes in a person's life but how does the reality play out when you are going from one field to another? How do you pitch yourself as a 'competent' or 'aiming to be competent' provider in a completely different field from the one you came from?

In this blog I'll discuss various pivots and share my story and my successes and failures.


Changing careers came out of necessity for my first pivot. In February 2011 a magnitude 6.1 earthquake destroyed much of Christchurch city. I was a contractor with NZIM (NZ Institute of Management). I was commuting 90 minutes in and out of Christchurch city from our rural property in Waiau, it was worth it as working for NZIM as a facilitator was incredible. I was with NZIM for 15 years and I loved every minute of the journey with them.

NZIM, on the corner of Kilmore and Madras Streets was red-stickered, meaning it wasn't safe for use after the quake. That was one part of the challenge but the reality was that professional development needs in Canterbury evaporated overnight.

My first major career pivot happened at 42; at the time my sheep farmer husband and I had 3 children aged 13 and twins who were 5. We lived on 140 acres along the banks of the Waiau river and my husband farmed the family farm with his father just 10 minutes away. For years we had been discussing how it would be possible to make money from 140 acres and the reality was it needed to be horticulture. We had tried and failed with two crops and lost money on both ventures. Olives and Hazelnuts were not going to work for us and while the failures were expensive, they were a step towards learning what wasn't the best thing so that we could find what was. Olives and Hazelnuts lead us to Rhododendrons.


We were both enjoying gardening as our hobby and were having a lot of success growing Rhododendrons. We had a small venture buying Rhodos in bulk for establishing our own garden and selling them in a variety of ways; once a year at the Culverden fete, at the gate and online. It was the quintessential "side hustle" for us both.

After the earthquake we both realised that while Cantabrians were no longer gardening (but would most likely come back in the future) the rest of NZ was. With all of my time suddenly being available I put my energy into marketing our online Rhododendron business. This included having professional photographs taken, writing articles and getting featured in gardening magazines and on television with the rural programme "High Heels in the High Country". Our Rhododendron business flourished and I was enjoying status as Canterbury's RhodoLady. I was regularly invited and always accepted opportunities to speak at garden clubs around New Zealand. We had many years of garden tours and events in our own garden and I enjoyed my time in the world of horticulture (minus the qualification that didn't seem to phase anyone!)

As a mother, the nursery provided an opportunity for me to spend all my time at home and be present at all my children's school events. No longer commuting meant that there was no need for childcare and I enjoyed the change from indoor facilitation to outdoor manual work; but I knew it wasn't going to be forever. When our children no longer needed me as much I knew that I wanted to return to facilitation and to that end I decided to spend my years on the horticulture journey also upskilling my credentials; ready for the relaunch when the time was right. It meant no TV in the evenings, instead I spent my time studying. When the timing was right I would be ready.

In 2018 we sold the Rhododendron business, in 2019 we sold the Rhododendron garden and moved to another property where my time was now 100% my own. It was time for the pivot back to what my formal education had been in psychology, and now with an added qualification of professional coaching.

Marina Shearer with Rhododendron Naselle


For the next part of my career I really wanted to be back in the business world, doing what I loved at the beginning of my career; travelling, speaking, designing workshops and facilitating. My challenge was that after establishing myself as the Rhodo Lady I now needed to step out of that picture and establish myself as a Professional Coach. While I didn't have a qualification in horticulture I did in psychology so the re-branding journey began with new photos minus the flowers.

Marina Shearer Professional Coach

One of the most rewarding parts of the latest journey has been collaborating with others and inviting them to work alongside me. I began a coaching organisation called Profile Coaching and with my Master Trainer certification I was able to certify coaches in a psychometric profiling tool. To date I have certified 15 coaches, some of whom are working alongside me in this organisation. Collaboration has been the secret sauce for this Pivot. I am absolutely loving this journey and have some exciting ventures going on at the moment.

My tips for a career pivot:-

  1. Look into your current career and determine the degree of satisfaction you get from it. Is it what you want to spend the rest of your life doing?

  2. Find someone (a mentor, a coach) to discuss through your thoughts and gain clarity on where you are and where you would like to be.

  3. From the safety of your current career start to investigate what it would take to be ready for a career pivot.

  4. Keep your thoughts to yourself until you are ready to take action, (apart from confidential conversations with family and coaches - avoid talking to your colleagues about your thoughts, it could make your current workplace untenable).

  5. Gain extra qualifications if required from the safety of your current job/career.

  6. Ensure you are committed to the new plan before you exit the previous one and that it is going to provide you the level of financial return that you require for your life.

As a professional coach I'm available to support anyone wanting to have a conversation about change, feel free to book a free discovery call with me.

BSc.psychology, Diploma Professional Coaching, Master Trainer

Marina is a coach, professional development expert, and facilitator who specialises in helping people develop themselves so they can be the best version of themselves and conduct their personal and professional lives more effectively.

Learn more about her HERE

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