“If you’re serious about investing your time in it, you will be reaping the rewards of it for years.”


Even though Julie Scanlon knew she needed a way out of her academic career, she felt too scared to venture into the unknown. The Launch Pad was a pivotal experience in changing her mindset to be open to new possibilities.

What was your work situation before the Launch Pad?

I was a senior lecturer. 

I was an academic all of my career until my mid-forties, when I decided I needed to get out.

How were you feeling about your work?

Over a number of years, I’d become increasingly dissatisfied. 

It felt like the higher education sector’s values were moving in the opposite direction to mine.

And it’s strange to say it about being in academia, but I felt like I’d stopped learning and growing – like I’d gone as far as I could.

So I needed to get out, but I felt a bit too scared. I felt that I couldn’t possibly leave without having something to step into.

Why did you decide to join the Launch Pad?

I came across a two-day Careershifters event initially, and got an awful lot out of that.

So when the Launch Pad opportunity came up I had the confidence to give it a go.

I was really serious by that point about wanting to move careers, and having dipped my toe into the Careershifters vibe, I thought it was a great set up – non-stuffy, very helpful and supportive.

What had you previously tried to do to make progress on your career change?

I did some volunteering in different sectors, to give me a sense of what other sectors were like.

I became a trustee at a couple of charities which gave me a lot of experience at a strategic level, and taught me what it might be like to work in a sector that wasn’t so at odds with my values.

What were your reservations or skepticism about the Launch Pad?

I was a bit scared because I’d never done anything like that before.

At the start I was still quite timid about my career change – I was feeling that I wouldn’t change career unless I had something specific to go to. But the Launch Pad really helped me with that.

What was the experience like?

It was brilliant; it was a pivotal experience for me.

It really helped me so much, to change my perspective. My mind opened up to possibilities, and some of the fears were taken away.

The way it’s organised helps you to be brave and try new things, to see how they resonate with you. 

Going through it with a group of people was fantastic, too. You help each other move along and move forward, you give each other encouragement and support, along with the Careershifters team. You’re in each other’s corner.

What were the highlights?

The first thing I remember is one of the coaches wearing about ten pairs of glasses! 

That was such an illuminating metaphor for the limiting worldviews that we put on, and how we become less explorative as we grow up.

What were the toughest moments?

One of the challenges early on in the course involved asking someone for something. Through this, I worked through my fear of looking stupid and being rejected.

Reaching out to people became a lot easier because of activities like that, and that was one of the early things that enabled me to do professional outreach activities.

Where are you now in your career?

I work for myself full time. 

I’ve very recently set up a limited company, just to concretise the self-employed work I’ve been doing. My consultancy is around diversity and inclusion, and I do training and facilitation work, as well as coaching.

How do you feel about your work?

I so enjoy what I do now. 

Being my own boss really suits me, choosing the work that I want to do – it’s work that’s aligned with my values. And there’s no little box that I need to fill in any more – it’s just me, I’m creating the box.

One drawback is that you never know where the next penny is coming from, but the benefits far outweigh that little bit of stress.

I haven’t regretted leaving the academic world for one millisecond. I feel free now – that’s how important the change has been for me.

How did the Launch Pad help you get clear on and move into your new career?

It was a catalyst to shift my mindset. 

It helped me to grow, and learn, and open my mind to new possibilities.

It was quite transformational in supporting me on my journey. I might have got there anyway, but it might have taken me years!

What on the course led to that impact?

Various activities that we did helped me open up my frames of reference and see where the possibilities are. 

Activities that involved reaching out to people made my mindset more open and gave me confidence.

I still bring that attitude with me – the trying-out of possibilities, the idea that if it doesn’t work out, you can reel it back in.

What’s been the impact of your shift on your wider life?

It’s definitely helped me be happier. 

I’m less stressed about things.

I don’t feel like I’m carrying the weight of a big institutional hierarchy on me, I don’t feel as though I’m being penned in. 

That’s had a wider impact on my health and wellbeing.

What would you recommend to anyone considering the Launch Pad?

Definitely go for it. 

Don’t be afraid – it’s worth the investment.

Do put the work in – you need to be in a position where you can make the most of it, because it is quite a bit of work! 

But if you’re serious about investing your time in it, you will be reaping the rewards of it for years.


You can find full details about the course on our dedicated Launch Pad page.