Providing the next step for top bosses

Bosses leaving top roles can add value to the economy and society with their expertise, according to the founder of a new venture helping former executives in the next stage of their careers.

Victoria Tomlinson
Victoria Tomlinson

Victoria Tomlinson, CEO of communications agency Northern Lights, has launched a new venture called Next-Up. It is aiming to help ‘unretirees’ – top level executives who are looking for a purpose after having moved on from their previous roles.

Ms Tomlinson told The Yorkshire Post that unretirees were people who don’t want to retire but they don’t want to carry on with a new full-time job either.

She said: “A lot of people are left in a difficult place because they have been so full on when they’ve been working that they haven’t really had time to research and think about putting together a plan for the next stage.

“It can be quite a difficult time for people. One minute you’re at the top of your game, you’ve got people all around you, marketing, IT and people to make things happen. If you have an idea somebody can make it happen for you. Then suddenly you’re on your own.”

A variety of sectors could benefit from the expertise of these former top executives.

Ms Tomlinson said: “My main goal is to help people really enjoy the second stage of their lives and make the most of these fantastic skills we’ve got.

“If we’re not using them we’re wasting a massive resource for the UK. There’s a massive resource here in terms of helping businesses, charities, young people, mentoring, all sorts of things.”

Northern Lights has been going for 28 years and Next-Up, which formally launched today, is the next evolutionary step in the business, says Ms Tomlinson.

The small team of three will be working on Next-Up and a network of associates will provide their expertise as and when required. Northern Lights has become a trading division of Next-Up.

“We’ve been helping around 100 individuals over the last few years and it just suddenly dawned on us that there’s a business here,” Ms Tomlinson said.

“People want practical help, they want some coaching and they might want help with things like writing a LinkedIn profile or help to become a consultant,” she added.

One of the main issues former executives face is networking as they no longer have the same job title as before.

Ms Tomlinson said: “The biggest issue is their identity has been wrapped up in their job title for years and they haven’t really needed to think who they are.

“They are a partner of a law firm or they are a chief exec or a finance director. It’s a very neat shorthand. You don’t need to say much more about who you are or what you do.” As well as providing practical support on digital platforms, such as LinkedIn, Next-Up will also have a jobs board connecting people to different roles.

The reason why many former executives are looking to continue to work is because they still want a purpose.

Ms Tomlinson said: “They want to feel valued and they want to have a purpose. In fact, we’ve done some research with 1,000 people over 55 and what that showed was 66 per cent of people say they are motivated by purpose. Status and money doesn’t mean so much to them anymore.

“One minute they’ve been at the top of their game and then suddenly they’re thinking surely somebody wants my skills.”

Openings in charity sector

Victoria Tomlinson says there are a lot of opportunities in the not-for-profit sector.

She said: “We’re working with a number of charities who say they would love to take people on, possibly as trustees but actually on projects. What they’re saying is we’d love somebody to come and work with us and use those skills.”

Next-Up will also look at helping former executives acquire other skills such as blogging.

“They’re used to having people around them do all of those sorts of things and it can be quite daunting,” says Ms Tomlinson.