Meet Suzette - she took a risk and changed roles as a mature worker. Does she think it was worth it?

Age-friendly Employer: FSCS

Suzette Browne

Transformer

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Suzette Browne

Current role: PR Manager
Age at time of interview: 51
Time at FSCS: 20 years

With over two decades’ experience at the FSCS, Suzette believes in embracing challenges, learning new skills and smashing ageist stereotypes. Taking a risk and moving from Claims to PR has paid off for Suzette. But if she ever tries a new side-line, it might be as a voiceover artist.

I'm responsible for media relations at the FSCS. I deal with the press and all incoming enquiries, and am responsible for producing the organisation's publications. A lot of what the FSCS does is quite complicated, so it's my job to simplify the language and get the message out about our vital role in protecting consumers.

The career risk that paid off

I haven’t always been in PR. Twenty years ago, I started out in Technical Claims, dealing directly with customers' claims for compensation. When I came back from maternity leave I had the opportunity to work in the PR team. The move was challenging but I love reading and I love communicating, so I felt that working in PR would allow me to develop those skills further. That was 18 years ago!

While working at the FSCS, I've had two children and combined working full-time with studying for a post-graduate diploma in PR and running a household. It involved a lot of juggling but I decided to take the risk and make the move because I wanted to succeed in my career. My enthusiasm paid off.

I’ve been involved in so many interesting and important projects here. For example, I worked on the FSCS's ‘Making the Most of Midlife’ programme where we held sessions with staff over the age of 50 (and their partners) to talk about the implications of pensions in later life, and what they need to do to prepare.

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Work to fund a comfortable retirement…?

I’m lucky that my role at the FSCS has allowed me to strike a really good balance in terms of life inside and outside the workplace. If I was able to take a sabbatical, I would spend more time with my family, perhaps on a long holiday. Having worked all my life, it would be lovely to just switch off for a couple of months and not have to think about work, but still have a job to come back to.

However, my plans for the future are to continue to work hard towards retirement, whenever that may be. I'm quite looking forward to retiring but I'd like to retire comfortably. That means working to build up my pension to give me a nice buffer so I can enjoy my retirement.

… Or learn new skills and keep working?

As an older worker myself, I'm thinking about the new skills I might need if I have to work longer than expected. I don’t have to think about childcare anymore, but I am thinking about how to support my children through university. The reality is that older workers have different needs to younger workers – and that’s no bad thing.

Organisations need mature workers

It’s vitally important that companies think about employing mature workers to help fill the gaps that are caused by events like Brexit. I fear that many older workers in society are being discriminated against and are unable to get jobs because of their age, yet they have so much experience to bring to an organisation.

We’re ambitious, too

It’s also important to smash the stereotype that only younger workers are interested in career progression. As an older worker, I know that’s just not true. I think older workers need to demonstrate their ambition by being prepared to take new career paths within an organisation. We don't just bring skills gained from within the business, but also the personal experience you get from being older, having a family, running a household and managing finances.

One thing on my ‘to do’ list is to learn to do voice overs. I've often been told I have a really good voice and over the years it's something that I've thought I'd quite enjoy trying. Perhaps it's time to look into it.

What's Great About The FSCS?

I love that the FSCS is so age-friendly

There are lots of policies and support which provide you with different options in how you might work while balancing caring responsibilities. There are workshops about retirement and planning. The FSCS also looks at how the support you need may differ from the support it gives to younger colleagues. Something else that I really value is that the FSCS has realised that, as an older worker, you might be caring for a parent, friend or relative, and need support in that role too.

I can shout about the benefits of employing older workers

At the FSCS, we do this externally through our website and social media channels. We are really well placed to comment on the benefits of employment policies that meet the needs of an ageing population.

I ‘translate’ what people say for journalists and other audiences

Working for the FSCS has made me hyper-aware of how people communicate. I listen to the way people speak and dissect what they are saying. Because I understand our work in granular detail, I’m able to communicate that to journalists and through our publications.

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“It’s important to smash the stereotype that only younger workers are interested in career progression”

Suzette Browne
PR Manager, FSCS

Suzette's career journey

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Suzette's advice to others

Career change? Don’t hesitate!

My advice to anyone thinking of embarking on a change of role or career in midlife is to go for it! Don't feel nervous - it's better to have tried and not succeeded than regret not having done it in the first place. I made the leap and reaped the benefits. It's never too late to transition from one role to another.

Value your skills as a mature worker

If you're a mature worker, remember that you bring huge advantages to the business when transitioning into a new role, such as skills you've gained from doing a variety of other things beforehand. These life experiences and life skills not only benefit the organisation, but are truly transferable. There's also a positive effect on a business when an individual consistently adds to their skillset.

Businesses should be ready to offer guidance, support and flexibility

Businesses need to start thinking about what older workers might need. They should be prepared to offer guidance, support and flexibility. It’s worth a little lateral thinking because an organisation with a diverse age range of employees is much more likely to succeed, due to the different perspectives it gains from people at different stages of their lives. You don't get that diversity of thought if everyone in the workforce is the same age.

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Qualified dressmaker, interested in learning to be a voice over artist. Enjoys hot yoga, the gym, and dancing.

Just some of Suzette’s interests and side hustles

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