Joanna Maxwell

Over the years I’ve become pretty well-qualified to write about changing identities, rethinking careers and growing older.

It all started as a small child, when I just knew I was an alien. I spent hours in our backyard scanning the night sky for the planet where my real family lived. Gradually, it dawned on me that I was in fact human and had a loving family here on earth. After a somewhat brutal adjustment period, I accepted my fate. But it took me many years to truly fit in on this planet, to find my tribe and develop a sense of belonging, let alone an understanding of my purpose or career path.

At university, I mourned being too young for the Vietnam protests, searched for a cause, wondered about feminism, contemplated a stint abroad as a volunteer. But I did very little about any of these things, drifting from class to class, idea to idea. Not a clue, really.

In my working life, I meandered from a legal career, through academic teaching, freelance journalism, film writing, training as a therapist and working as a coach, teacher of adults and a consultant. I picked up qualifications in arts (B.A.), law (LL.B and LL.M), coaching (PCC), training (TAE), therapy and education (M.Ed.). (I like learning…)

In my early 40s, I founded my own business. I ran career-change programs (a role for which I was clearly well qualified) so I could help other people whose first career was not the right fit for them. I used creative thinking to teach people to think differently. And I kept on writing.

Into my 50s, I took my business in new directions and worked with some fascinating people. I ran a business startup program for migrant women in Lakemba for five years. I helped people over 40 who wanted to rethink their work, and I consulted with employers to help them appreciate and integrate several generations into their workforces. A real highlight was being resident coach on two series of Ray Martin’s The Road Next Travelled radio show, which focused on Aussies changing their lives in their 50s. I started my blog, published a book on creative thinking and kept writing.

In between my work, I travelled to Tibet, the Middle East, India, Bhutan, Tanzania and more. I survived walking on fire and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. At the moment I am enjoying exploring Australia…

Increasingly now I work to help Australians of all ages and backgrounds feel they belong and have a way to contribute – and to flourish. That’s why I wrote my book, Rethink your Career in your 40s, 50s and 60s (HarperCollins 2017). And that’s why I spent 4 years at the Australian Human Rights Commission as the Director of the Age Discrimination Team.

Now I have started my next book – on navigating the new retirement. And I am available for coaching, training and speaking, or other interesting collaborations.

Watch this space.

Joanna Maxwell


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