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From high-flying banker to fitness instructor: Former Bury St Edmunds woman talks career changes

PUBLISHED: 20:03 31 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:12 01 February 2018

Former Thurston Community College student Stephanie Wilson, who left the world of investment banking behind. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Former Thurston Community College student Stephanie Wilson, who left the world of investment banking behind. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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In a bid to beat the January blues, many people flirt with the idea of changing careers in the first month of the year, but rarely follow through. MICHAEL STEWARD meets one former Suffolk woman who left the high-flying world of investment banking behind to become a gym instructor - and hasn't looked back.

Former Thurston Community College student Stephanie Wilson, who left the world of investment banking behind. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDFormer Thurston Community College student Stephanie Wilson, who left the world of investment banking behind. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

“It got to the point when I thought I really can’t do this anymore,” says Stephanie Wilson of her role in securities lending at Dutch bank ABN-AMRO in central London.

Stephanie, who grew up in Bury St Edmunds, had worked in finance for seven and a half years, borrowing and lending shares in a multi-million pound world which many people long to be a part of.

But the 38-year-old was beginning to feel as though she no longer belonged in an industry which had seen significant changes on the back of the 2008 banking crisis.

The former Thurston Community College student had always held a passion for health and fitness and it was after a yoga holiday in September 2015 that she decided to take the plunge for good.

Former Thurston Community College student Stephanie Wilson, who left the world of investment banking behind. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDFormer Thurston Community College student Stephanie Wilson, who left the world of investment banking behind. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

“The banking industry changed quite a lot,” she said. “Everyone sees it as this high-flying, exciting world, which it was at the start but then along with the banking crisis came all the red tape and compliance and difficulty to do a lot of things. We were very restricted.

“As time went on, my mindset changed as to what I wanted to do.

“I just felt as though I’d done my time there and wanted to do different things and something which I felt was a bit more fulfilling.

“I started to not enjoy what I was doing and not relate to the industry or others in the industry.

Former Thurston Community College student Stephanie Wilson, who left the world of investment banking behind. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDFormer Thurston Community College student Stephanie Wilson, who left the world of investment banking behind. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

“Ultimately, I always wanted to do something more health and fitness-related so started to think about it more and more.

“It took me a couple of years because it’s obviously such a big jump, but I remember going on a yoga holiday and thinking ‘I really need a break’ and that’s when the penny dropped and I thought I don’t want to do finance anymore.

“So I got back from that holiday and handed in my notice.

“It was sad to leave something which I’d known for such a long time, I’d made some good friends but it felt as if such a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

“Sounds a bit cheesy, but that’s exactly how I felt – like the world’s my oyster and I can do whatever I want and can go in whatever direction I want to go in.”

Stephanie said leaving such a well-established job to become a self-employed fitness instructor was not a decision she took lightly.

“It was scary,” she said.

“It’s hard going from a secure job when you know you’re getting a salary and all the benefits that come with that, like a pension, to having nothing at all, nothing to fall back on.

“But I was at the point where I didn’t want to do it anymore and was feeling quite miserable.

“I decided pretty much straight away that I wanted to do a personal training course because it wasn’t a very long course to take.

“I started working at a gym to get some work experience and started getting a few clients.

“I now freelance in an independent gym and do a lot of pre and post-natal work.

“I work most days because I don’t want to say no to my clients because they want to do it – and in terms of hours I would say that what I am doing now is probably worse.

“But I feel so much happier and more positive.

“It’s certainly made me think more about being more positive because a lot of the time clients are stressed and they come to you and it’s a kind of de-stress for them.

“So you’ve got to take on a lot of their bad moods and negativity as well so it really helps if you’re able to help them through it.”

So what advice would she give to people who are looking for the confidence to make a career jump?

“Do a bit of research and see what works for you.

“Make sure before you do something rash that you know what you’re getting yourself into.

“But think about something which drives you and puts a smile on your face.

“I know it’s easy to say but you really have got to do what you enjoy and what makes you happy because you’re at work for a massive part of your life.

“Change is what makes people grow and taking risks is what makes people grow.

“Don’t be scared, you learn from your mistakes.

“I gave a lot to my previous job, but know it was the best decision to leave.”

Visit www.stephaniewilsonwellbeing.com for more information or follow @stephaniewilsonwellbeing on Instagram.

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