This week’s career change story is from Sandra Nardi who switched from PR to teacher to entrepreneur. What I love about Sandra’s story is that she had the courage to stop and walk away from a career she loved to focus on what was more important: time with her children.
This is one of series of guest posts designed to inspire mums thinking about a career change. To find all the stories use Career Change Story in the Categories drop-down.
If you have a career change story to share, click here to contact me. I am always delighted to receive guest posts on this subject. 500-800 words. I’d love to hear from you.
Career change: from Teacher to Entrepreneur (Lady Wimbledon)
I had the foresight at 26 years to realise that being the PR Manager of Sony PlayStation was not the best foundation to find Mr Right, settle down and raise a family. With an alcohol-fuelled career taking me from London to LA, I craved a simpler life in leafy, residential Wimbledon.
With a degree in English Literature under my belt and an aspiration to inspire education rather than entertainment within our future generation, I left the lavish life of PR and retrained as a primary school teacher in South West London.
Once qualified, I was lucky enough to begin my teaching career in an outstanding school in Wimbledon Village. I jumped out of bed every morning with glee and loved every minute of inspiring young minds and sharing my love for learning and the changing seasons with the children in my class.
At Christmas, our class was always glowing with fairy lights, a warm fuzzy post box and magic carpet, whilst I roped my friends in to dress up as Santa and let the children whisper in his ear what they wished for most.
We enjoyed jokes, books and topics, which the children chose to continue learning about and bring back to the class to share. Just like my own blessed childhood, the classroom was magical and alive with the same colour and beauty outside its four walls.
However, there came a day which rocked the very foundation of my world.
However, there came a day which rocked the very foundation of my world. My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and my insides knotted. There was no time to reflect during the working day, the children were the perfect antidote to such tragic news. But with 12 weeks to live and his final wish to walk me down the aisle, I married the love of my life and the next 4 years sped into overdrive.
As my father continued to laugh and fight cancer, I continued to provide reasons to keep him alive. My husband and I had 2 children in quick succession within 18 months and only a year later; my father took his last breath when I was 6 months pregnant with our third child.
This period in my life was certainly strained. I was lucky enough to be on maternity leave, but when it was time to return to work, my mother having looked after my father for years was not in a position to look after 3 children under 3.5 years. We embarked on finding a nanny to take care of our children, which is a very difficult decision for any mother to make. Childcare sucks no matter what job you do. Trusting a nursery or nanny to look after your children takes guts and I admire any mother who entrusts her most treasured babes to another.
My nanny however, was incredible and the children adored her. She cooked better than I and never ever raised her voice. I worked part-time, so half the week we both shared the childcare and the second half of the week she was the notorious wonder nanny pushing a buggy with 3 children under 4 to the park each day.
Sadly, the inevitable day came when the well-oiled machine of my life stopped working. My 3 children were all sick at once! It suddenly dawned on me that I was in a job where I couldn’t ring up and say “my children are sick so I can’t come in” or “it’s my child’s sports day or assembly”, as there would always be 30 children in my class waiting for me.
I looked at my wonder nanny and realised she was earning twice as much as me!
I looked at my wonder nanny and realised she was earning twice as much as me! I was putting my husband under immense financial pressure and seeing the situation through wet and tired eyes, the madness of what I was doing resonated deeply.
How could I continue in a job where I would miss my children’s first day at school and not be there to pick them up after? How can I work with children all day and yet be too exhausted to share all my love of learning with my own mini brood.
Walking away from my 3 sick children that rainy November morning and crying all the way to work was enough for me to promise to myself to never feel that pain again.
During my years of teaching, it was obvious to me that there was a strange divide of knowledge between teachers and parents. Teachers had the knowledge and parents in affluent areas of SW London and Surrey wanted it. The mothers were intelligent, successful women who needed advice on homework, reading, chunking in maths, the best schools or even help decoding reports and their child’s targets. Within months I took up a Masters in Education at Kingston University & developed a successful blog with topics ranging from iPads to Flexible School Admissions. The Parent Education Consultancy was soon formed to provide this information as a 1:1 service for parents who want impartial advice.
It soon became apparent that I’d hit a growing demand for such a service, which outstretched my own knowledge. We now have a team of consultants on-board who specialise in everything from entrance exams and school selection to dyslexia.
With the operation securely in place, it was easy for me to remain as Founder and play a smaller Director’s role in the company. This gave me the opportunity to ignite another bombfire, which allowed me to be me: the woman, pre-marriage, pre-kids and pre my father being diagnosed with cancer.
This wasn’t a strategised move … it simply evolved.
This wasn’t a strategised move, like everything in my life had been up until now; it simply evolved. I received a phone call from my best friend to help launch a shop in Wimbledon Village, and after calling in a few favours with a spring in my step, I realised it was time to go back to my roots in PR – but this time on my terms.
I took on a full time Project Manager and the most incredible social media gurus in the area to consolidate credibility and make an impact on my town. Little did I know that Wimbledon was filled to the brim with extraordinary business women who had an instant requirement for store and fashion launches, new products and catwalks; in addition to Social and Digital media campaigns. Bombshell Consultancy Ltd was created shortly thereafter to offer a PR service to all the exciting companies that we believed resonated with our own brand.
I have certainly made some mistakes on the way, but by branding myself as Lady Wimbledon, I have categorically come into my own space as a confident woman, wife and mother. With a continued flow of invitations to charity balls, fashion shows and gifted with couture hats, dresses, make up and jewellery, at the ripe age of 37 I was invited to join 18 year old models on the catwalk; it’s certainly every lady’s dream job.
The most important aspect … the precious time I spend with my children.
The most important aspect of being my own boss however, is the precious time I spend with my children. I am there for them when they need me. They clamber into my bed every morning – we enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner together and I put them to bed every night. That is the only success worth accrediting me for, and was the only objective I set out to achieve. This and the micro-world of Lady Wimbledon, which belongs solely to me.
Sandra Nardi is Managing Director at Bombshell Consultancy Ltd. Bombshell Consultancy is a cutting edge PR firm offering traditional marketing and PR services with content rich social and digital media.