Changing careers is a big decision at any age, let alone past the half-century mark. Carol Hulm explains why age is no barrier when it comes to making the leap to a career you love, and why keeping your skills up to date is vital to success in tech.

Carol HulmAfter having children, I rejoined the workforce at age 30 as a personal assistant. Then when computers came along, I became an IT Trainer, joined the Institute of IT Training, and won the first IT Trainer of the Year award for training in the NHS.

Following a year managing training in the US, I returned to the UK and the NHS as a project co-ordinator. There, I helped roll out the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL), which set out to improve NHS digital literacy by giving all staff the opportunity to gain a qualification.

Then in 2005, I joined BCS as a special projects manager and focused on a major process re-engineering exercise that transformed the organisation by automating many of the procedures for managing professional exams. I won the Business Improvement Award for this work.

The move to BA 

At BCS, I realised my project and change management work was closely aligned with business analysis, and I decided to make the leap into this field. Moving into consultancy at age 50, I worked as a junior business analyst on a major international web-based solution for exam products.

I took the BCS International Diploma in Business Analysis, an industry-recognised certification that’s often requested in job specifications. As well as giving me confidence that I was competent in my new role, it showed my peers in other disciplines that I had the skills, knowledge and tools to get the job done.

My first formal role as a business analyst introduced me to Agile, so I also completed the Professional Scrum Master certification as well as Agile project management courses to complement my existing knowledge and boost my CV.

Climbing the BA career ladder

I took on many different roles as a consultant, often working with Agile project teams remotely, but I wanted more experience as part of a team of business analysts. So in 2017, I joined Swiss Re as a self-service solutions specialist, and moved to a business analyst role with the company a few years later.

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I was responsible for rolling out Swiss Re’s recruitment solution, which I later helped migrate to a new ServiceNow platform in one of the company’s largest IT projects. This meant working as part of a multi-disciplined, multi-location Agile team.

After being made redundant at the age of 62, I embarked on the BCS Advanced International Diploma in Business Analysis to show employers I was still progressing in my career, even with retirement just around the corner. This helped me secure a role as a senior business analyst with People’s Partnership, a UK not-for-profit organisation.

I was really worried about my age when looking for a new job, but I was pleasantly surprised that my CV attracted responses quickly and I was invited to four interviews within a week. This shows that employers value people with plenty of experience in their field, regardless of their age.

Supporting the BA community

At Swiss Re, I had begun giving advice and guidance to colleagues, and I wanted to gain formal training in this area so I could pursue it further. I’ve just completed the IIBA UK Mentor Scheme, which opened the door to opportunities as a mentor at People’s Partnership.

As I move towards retirement, I’m looking to get involved in more events where I can share my experiences with others, and I’d like to continue to support the business analysis community for many years to come. I’m also working towards BCS Fellowship again.

Achieving great things at any age

My experience has taught me a few lessons I think will be helpful to anyone considering a career change or progression in later life:

  1. Age doesn’t have to be a barrier because you’re never too old to learn
  2. Seek certifications and courses that will give you exposure to the experience you’re looking for
  3. Get a mentor and join a group with the same interests as you
  4. Remember: people are interested in learning from your experiences
  5. Be confident in your ability to make a difference, even if it's only for a few years
  6. Set a long-term goal and consider what you want to do after retirement so you have something to work towards

Want to advance your business analysis career or take the first step to changing your career path? Explore our business analysis certification pathway.