After almost three decades working at BT, Tracy has found much joy in her new role as a part-time nanny.
“[I’ve spent many] years in a job that…pays a mortgage, helps me bring my children up,” says Tracy Embley. “Now I want a job that I love and that’ll bring me some joy.”
Last year Tracy, aged 59, began working as a part-time nanny in Harrow, north-west London. This has been a big career change – she previously worked at BT for 27 years, followed by a five-year career break.
Tracy now works three afternoons a week for a family with two children. Her duties include school pick-ups, helping with homework, preparing dinner – and a lot of running around with an energetic six year old. Her new job brings her the joy she was looking for, as well as keeping her active and giving her some extra income.
“It keeps my brain ticking over, it gets me out, it gives me a routine,” she says.
As a teenager, Tracy didn’t have a particular job or career in mind. After leaving school at 16, she soon landed an admin role at a travel agency. She then joined BT, starting out as a telephone operator in directory enquiries.
She left BT after five years and did some other clerical jobs, before returning to the company for a second and much longer stint. She met her husband there and they went on to have three children – who are now aged 30, 28 and 22.
Tracy spent most of her second stint in the collections department, which had flexible start and finish times that were ideal for balancing work with parenting. She was also allowed to move to a part-time role after having her third child.
“I’ll always say that [about] BT – they managed to let me do everything in my life that I wanted to do at the time,” she says, adding that she will always feel grateful for that.
Tracy’s position at BT could have been “a job for life” – but, when she turned 53, she decided to leave and take a career break. She’d been moved into a role that she enjoyed less and which involved a long commute, and on top of this her mother died suddenly.
Tracy’s five-year career break ran from 2017 until 2022. She sorted out her mother’s estate, caught up with friends, enjoyed hobbies and visited St Helena, the Atlantic island that her mother had come from. The break was well-deserved – she’d been working non-stop since she was 16, alongside raising three children.
Tracy was able to fund herself through her career break. She and her husband had paid off their mortgage, and they had a BT pension from the age of 55 that they transferred to a SIPP.
However, last spring, Tracy was keen to start working again. Her children had left home, and she felt like she and her husband were “rattling around the house”. Moreover, she now had the freedom to choose a role she loved and working hours she wanted.
Tracy had previously been interested in midwifery, but she didn’t want a career-change that involved lengthy retraining. She signed up to Koru Kids, an online nanny agency, which provided an assessment and safety training (nannies do not require formal qualifications). In June last year, she was matched with the family she works with to this day.
Her advice for fellow older workers is to seek out something they love, if they’re in a financial position to change or reassess their career. “Bring a little joy to your life,” she says.