Working life stories: Channel Tunnel manager to mindset coach

Beena Nadeem talks to Paul Wilson about how he moved from working on the Channel Tunnel to becoming a mindset coach in his late 50s.


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Paul Wilson was a Channel Tunnel emergency services manager until his late fifties until he made the large shift to becoming a mindset coach. Paul set up a Happy Head which essentially helps people dump their emotional baggage and achieve the things they want to. A little like a life coach meets a hypnotherapist, if you like. So how did that leap happen?

“I spent 25 years working at the Channel Tunnel, mostly as emergency response manager,” he says. His job involved planning rescue scenarios and working through disaster scenarios to ensure the tunnel was safe, but the “epiphany if you like, was on 23rd October 2017. I was cycling to work and got knocked off,” he says.

Paul was signed off work for six weeks, unable to do anything. “All I could do was think,” he says. “I thought do I spend my next years working until I die, and not get promoted because I was 57 and there was no way I’d make director level. This is where I’m going to be until I retire.”

He decided to make a career out of his hobby: photography, but a photographer friend respectfully put him right. Thanks to mobile phones, the industry was almost dead. So, on December 1st  2017 Paul left the company “without a Scooby Doo what I was going to do”. “It was a complete leap,” he says.

A superpower is born

In 2018 he went to a personal trainer ‘to put on some muscle’. He also decided to push himself beyond his comfort zone and did 12 weeks of learning stand-up comedy. He did two gigs. He also attended a taster course where hypnosis and persuasion were used.

“I got matched with this lady who had a fear of all things that wriggled. I showed her a couple of pictures of snakes and she got upset and tearful. So, we did the suggested work. The next day she went out for a walk and saw a worm. Her husband was videoing it and the kids were in the background yapping away… It was amazing, she got on her hands and knees, picked it up and moved it to one side. I thought, bloody hell, I’ve got a superpower.”

After this Paul underwent some training, read everything he could lay his hands on and trained to become a therapist. That worked well for a while. He stopped smoking too and lost weight. In 2018 he realised he wanted to do more. “So, I became a mindset coach – using hypnosis and suggestion to get people to meet their goals.”

But for Paul, Covid played havoc with his sessions. He has managed to keep going and bring more things online.

Paul says that removing the baggage that stops you achieving is important to being happy. Other people’s opinions are not. And having struggled with depression for the longest part of his life, as well as attempting suicide three times, he says he realises that every step in his life has brought him to where he is now.

“If you spent 30 years doing something you hated, there’s no one to blame but you. Move forward and do something different,” he says. “Other people’s opinions don’t count for anything.”

*Creating an inclusive work culture for all is the aim of the first National Older Workers Week, organised by, which runs from 22nd November. The week will include a series of online events for employers and candidates with leading experts and employers. There will be a panel discussion on the results of our survey of older workers’ experience of Covid and their attitudes towards their working lives, a best practice event on everything from eliminating age bias in the recruitment process to returner programmes and lifelong learning, an event for line managers on managing multigenerational teams and a candidate-focused discussion about finding a job you love. Find out more and register for the free events here.

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