Changing careers in your 40s could be the smartest move ever

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After being made redundant at 46, AAT Tutor and Finance Manager Russell Hague makes it look like changing careers late in life is easy…

A­t the age of 46, Russell Hague suddenly found himself without a job and there is no greater wakeup call than being made redundant without any real qualifications to prove what you already know. “I soon realised I needed a qualification that was relevant, and recognised that this could open some new doors for me” he says. “Once I actually started studying with AAT, I realised I didn’t know half as much as I thought I did. What I thought were desirable qualifications are, in fact, essential.”

Before this turning point, Hague enjoyed a solid career. After leaving school at 16 to work as an apprentice mechanic, he was lucky to have an employer who sponsored him to do sales, management and engineering training. Hague rapidly gained technical and management qualifications that propelled his career from the car bonnet to general office-management roles, and then out of the motor trade into the financial services sector. “This kick-started my relationship with accounting,” he says.

“When I walked into the office on the first day of my new job, HMRC bailiffs were sticking labels on the equipment ready for repossession. When I’d eventually sorted things out, the company was actually due a substantial VAT refund. I moved on from there some years later but I was quickly hooked on the enigma that is the accounting profession.”

For the past seven years, Hague has been commuting over the hills through the scenic Peak District for his role as finance manager for a small group of companies with varied operations. “Routine is important, but I’d get bored to death if I had to carry out the same ones day in and day out,” he admits. In the evenings he works as an associate lecturer at Sheffield City College, teaching AAT Levels 1 and 2. “I feel lucky to have this opportunity to teach. It never crossed my mind before that it could be something I would enjoy.”

Hague makes it look like changing careers late in life is easy. But he does not shy away from admitting the challenges that come with it. “It is a daunting place to be in,” he says. “It’s hard realising you don’t know as much as you thought you did. But, if you can see it as an opportunity, doors will open.”

Staying true to his light-hearted ways, he explains what he does when he is not at work. ”I love cycling, although my body shape would suggest otherwise,” he jokes. “These days we don’t go up many mountains, but stick to the old railway tracks. We’re so lucky here in the Peak District. It’s quiet and peaceful. There’s really nowhere else I’d rather be.”

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AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.

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