“It helped me come to the realisation that I could create my own path.”


When the pandemic lockdown left Maria Soleil’s employment uncertain, she started to question what sort of career she wanted for herself. The Launch Pad helped her build up the confidence she needed to strike out on her own and set up a marketing company helping purpose-driven businesses.

What was your work situation before the Launch Pad?

I was a marketing manager at a niche travel agent – but then the pandemic hit.

I was placed on furlough, and knew I probably didn’t have a job to go back to.

How were you feeling about your work?

I was generally quite happy with my old job, but looking for something else during lockdown threw me into a sort of career turmoil. 

I really didn’t know what I wanted to do.

Something just felt wrong. My heart wasn’t in the job applications I was doing. I didn’t even know if I wanted to do marketing any more.

Why did you decide to join the Launch Pad?

I found Careershifters through Google, and realised it was exactly what I needed.

I liked that the Launch Pad is an eight-week programme based on design thinking and process, and that it was all backed up with so many success stories.

And I got a really good vibe from the coaches. I felt that these were my people.

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

Flexibility is really important to me, and I had been pushing at my old job for more and more flexibility in the hours I worked and working from home. 

I was asking about this in job interviews too, but I hadn’t considered going self-employed at that stage of my career.

What were your reservations or skepticism about the Launch Pad?

Initially it felt like a leap of faith.

One of the early exercises we did seemed so far removed from the end result of knowing what my new job should be, that I wondered how it was going to work. My mind was so messy at that point.

But about three weeks in I saw where it was going – it was forcing me out of my comfort zone.

How did you make time for the course, and make the finances work?

I was on furlough at the time. It was a privilege to have that time.

What was the experience like?

It was really exciting and insightful.

It felt like a bit of a luxury, to be able to get to know more about myself.

What were the highlights?

One exercise involved connecting with new people, who did something that interested me. 

That was one of the things I’ll take into my career forever: I still do it. It really helps me get to that feeling of knowing what excites me. Plus, networking is extremely important. 

That exercise ticked so many boxes.

What were the toughest moments?

I found it tough to narrow down which themes to explore.

I had a lot of things I am interested in, such as psychology, business culture, wellbeing, mental health and nature.

It was hard to settle on one direction because there were so many career path options. 

In the end I settled on a simpler change – moving from employed to self-employed – because I knew I could always explore other options in the future.

Where are you now in your career?

I run my own business, Soleil Marketing, which helps purpose-driven businesses achieve growth with better marketing strategies and impactful content.

I’m passionate about working with businesses who are focussed on people and planet as equally as profit.

How do you feel about your work?

I’m enjoying it. 

Although it’s never actually finished! Careers evolve all the time.

I’ve actually started to realise that I really like running a business – even all the admin.

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

It helped me come to the realisation that I could create my own path.

I didn’t have to mould myself to an employer’s path. That gave me the confidence to go self-employed. 

Before, I’d thought that if I was going to do that, it wouldn’t be until I’d gained a lot more experience.

And it also made me realise that I wanted to work for purpose-driven businesses.

What on the course led to that impact?

Being forced out of my comfort zone, like with the exercise talking to new people, helped a lot. 

I’d never done anything like that before.

And one of the reasons I wanted to work with purpose-driven businesses was discovering that Careershifters was a B Corp.

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

It’s been brilliant.

The way I work now allows me to be there for people that might need my help. I’ve been able to shape my work around my life, rather than my life around my work.

I actually work four days a week, so I have a little bit of time for voluntary work as well now – and time for the people that mean a lot to me, like family. I don’t compromise wellbeing now.

It’s almost ingrained in us that work has to come first. Obviously it’s extremely important, but I don’t think it should come at the expense of your mental health or your wellbeing.

What would you recommend to anyone considering the Launch Pad?

If you want to do it but you have some hesitations, I’d say, just do it.

To find out more about Maria's business, visit

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