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Meet Corinne

by Jennifer Harper
Success Stories10 min read

After seven years of owning and operating her own niche business with her husband, Corinne became a mother and totally changed her outlook on work. When they sold their business, she had a new direction in mind. But her circumstances as a new mother sparked an interest in a different career, which provided a high level of satisfaction while helping others. She has recently returned to education to retrain.

Name: Corinne Thomsett

Location: Birmingham, West MIdlands

Current position: Mother of two; student

Previous job: Hotel boat operator

When did you make the change? 2013

What prompted you to stop what you were doing?

My husband and I spent 7 years running our own small business as owners of a pair of traditional canal narrowboats, which we ran as a hotel — think extremely small cruise ship. It was an incredible but all-consuming experience. We decided that after being fully immersed in that life for 7 years, including my husband being the chair of our trade body association, we wanted to explore other interests, and needed to give up our boats in order to do that.

Did you know what you wanted to move into?

I was hoping to carve a career as a self-employed ‘virtual assistant’ specialising in digital media management for other small business owners. I had done all the website/social media/blogging for our own business for the previous 7 years, and as it was an area of interest, I kept up to date with social networks and developments in digital media and SEO (search engine optimisation). To cement my skills, I undertook a degree-level online programme that, had I completed it, would have allowed me to become a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Did you face any obstacles along the way?

Not long after we made the decision to stop hotel-boating, I became pregnant. This wasn’t entirely unplanned — we stopped interfering to allow nature to take its course, whatever that might be — but I had absolutely no idea how all-consuming having a baby would be.

Since becoming a mother, I decided that digital media really didn’t interest me enough. I have now started studying the NCT Birth and Beyond degree at Worcester university.

Do you feel like you made the right decision?

I absolutely feel that we made the right decision to stop boating when we did. We’d both had enough of the lifestyle, and wanted to be able to spend more time with our families, particularly aging grandparents, and a canal boat is not an ideal home for small children and the amount of space they take up!

Have you changed as a person since you changed career?

When my oldest child was 6 months old, I had the opportunity to train as a breastfeeding peer supporter, and volunteer at our local children’s centre, supporting other breastfeeding mums. This is not something that I would even have been aware of at any point in my life previously, but I have found it enormously rewarding. It ignited a passion in me for supporting new mums and inspired me to apply to university, which is something I never thought I would do, and I have just started the course, which I am extremely excited about.

Are you using any of the same abilities for both careers?

I like to think I am approachable and very open, which is definitely something that was useful as a hotel boat operator — got to keep the guests and the staff happy — and has proved helpful in getting mums who are struggling with something very personal (breastfeeding) to talk to me. I had also had a lot of practice talking to groups, as I had to deliver welcome talks and safety briefings to our guests, which will come in very handy when I am delivering antenatal courses for the NCT.

Do you have further career goals?

I hope to become an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and an NCT instructor.

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