Keep Opening Doors

Successful Career Changers

by Yvonne Owen-Newns|4th August 2020|Career Change|Employment

Nicola John’s career started out in a very straight forward way but took some twists and turns before today where she is heading up her own business solutions company, NJJ Business Solutions ( supporting others to build their successful businesses.

When Nicola left school, she headed for her local college and completed a hotel reception/management course.  Part of the course meant doing a six-week placement and Nicola was excited to be heading off to The Ritz, in London.  Unfortunately, the accommodation didn’t work out and her parents were concerned about their young daughter living independently in London for six-weeks!  Alternative options were investigated, and Nicola completed her placement at a large hotel close to home. Luckily, she was then offered a full-time job there at the end of her course.

This launched a successful career in the hotel management sector, with promotions to duty manager quickly following.  Nicola loved the work, met her then husband and had a family.  Nicola then realized that hospitality and supporting a young family were not a good mix and she had choices to make.  At this point, Nicola embarked on a business and finance HNC, post graduate certificate and diplomas in management then finally an MBA.  During all this time, Nicola was working full-time and bringing up three young children.

From booking rooms to training managers

As her studies progressed Nicola moved jobs, working in a regional newspaper then as a practice manager for a large dental practice of seven dentists and twelve nurses.  While working at the practice, Nicola liaised with training providers and an opportunity arose to join one of them as a trainer and assessor.  Never one to stand still, Nicola continued educating herself, gaining more qualifications in health and safety, training and quality assurance.  In this role, she worked on a pilot project to develop an NVQ for team leaders and as a trainer for NEBS management.  This work naturally brought Nicola into contact with many organizations and through this, came her next career move.

While supporting a student on change management, Nicola became known to an organization that had ambitions to grow and were looking for a manager to facilitate the growth.  This construction company, which provided maintenance services to housing associations and held contracts with local authorities, offered her the opportunity to work with them.  This stage developed Nicola’s skills and experience in leadership and management, strategic planning, tender bidding and process management – a completely different world of hotel management that Nicola had embarked on when leaving school.

Taking up new opportunities

The company had difficulty in sourcing and supplying the doors they needed so the solution was to manufacture them.  Nicola took the chance to set up a manufacturing unit of composite doors to supply their main construction business and worked as a director of the building and doors divisions for some years. 

Do you want appear here as a Career Changer? If you wish to share your career changer story please contact me. I’d love to hear about your story.

not a sponsored article.

Nicola John of NJJ Business Solutions Ltd Find her on LinkedIn at:

In 2015 Nicola was appointed as the managing director of the door manufacturing business. The business had grown and was producing doors for housing associations across the whole of the UK and the decision was taken to make it an independent company.  Again, Nicola was gaining knowledge and experience of compliance work, lean manufacturing, health and safety and quality assurance.

One door closes, another opens

Then the dreadful night of the Grenfell tower fire in June 2017 had a devasting knock-on effect to the business.  Changes to legislation and government requirements meant that the sale of the doors halted almost over-night and despite keeping the company trading and complying to the new legislation for over a year, confidence in products was slow to return.   Eventually, the company ceased trading in 2019 and staff, including Nicola, were left without jobs.

Nicola looked back across her career with the satisfaction of knowing that she had studied, worked hard, and earned enough money to support herself and family.  Over her career, Nicola had taken many opportunities to learn through training and study then apply that learning in gaining new experiences.  Now was the time, Nicola took the decision to set up her own consultancy business rather than embark in a post with another organization.  This is giving her the opportunity to share her knowledge and expertise with a wider range of people and organizations.  It’s giving her the control to balance her life and work, spending more time with her now adult family and grandchildren.  Nicola still has the satisfaction of starting a new business and helping others with their business goals.

While her career clearly did not turn out the way she originally intended, Nicola was able to place herself in positions where she was able and ready to move when the time was right for her.  By continuously learning and improving, she was able to keep doors open and stay in control of her career, seizing opportunities to make a difference. 

If you need Nicola’s help and learn from her extensive knowledge and experience contact her directly via her website: and on LinkedIn at: Or phone her: 07850257614

Thank you to Nicola for your time, freely given, to share your experiences of your career pathway. Yvonne

If you need to talk through your ideas for your next career move contact Mid Life Career Services for a free discovery call

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