Career Change Success Stories… with Jenny Plant
Jenny had always known what she was born to do, but as she reached sixth form, she found herself being persuaded to pursue a more traditional, “safe” career path. Like a lot of fresh graduates, Jenny fell into her first role and was initially grateful to have found a job, particularly one which paid well and offered a great social life. But after a few years of being chronically unfulfilled, she had a realisation which set in motion the start of a career transition that turned out to be the best decision of her life. This is her story of how she transitioned from a career in finance to becoming a successful composer, singer and songwriter.
What job were you doing previously?
After leaving university, I joined a wealth management and corporate broking company called WH Ireland and worked in the investor relations team there.
That’s great! How did you get into that role and industry?
After leaving uni, I felt a fair bit of pressure to find a job and move to London. It was a path that my sister had taken before me and all of my friends were doing at the time too, so I just kind of got swept up in it. I think I initially ended up where I did because I didn’t really know where I was going and so I essentially found myself following in my sister’s footsteps. She had also graduated from Bristol University a few years before me and then got herself a great job in the city, so I guess I was just copying her! My friend then tipped me off about this role going at WH Ireland and suggested I go for it – and that was how it all happened.
How did you feel when you were working there?
At first I was just really excited that I got the job and I loved the social side of it. I liked the people I worked with – we’d go out for fun (and quite boozy!) lunches all the time – and I also got to travel round the country doing investor roadshows, which was great. But, ultimately, after a couple of years there, I was just chronically unfulfilled as I had no passion towards what I was doing. I never had the motivation to pick up the FT in the morning or push myself in ways that I could have done.
What are you doing now?
I’m a singer-songwriter and composer.
So how did your career change come about?
My interest had always been in music, but I guess I never thought that it could become a career. Even though I had been a music scholar at school and had studied it there, I had always been encouraged to go to university and go down a more traditional path.
I was still playing and writing music and singing in my spare time, and I think this thought of pursuing music kind of brewed over time. I just had this yearning to do music, it was always in me, and then one day I just decided to look up music colleges and do a bit of research about what the best options were for me. I felt that going back to study music would make it a proper step forward in my career and provide me with a place to meet like-minded people and give me the best possible platform.
What support did you get from those around you?
I remember the day I approached my mum to have a conversation with her about it. I was so nervous to tell my parents how I felt and that I wanted to go back to study at a music college. My mum turned around and said, “This is the best idea ever!”
Wow! That’s amazing and very cool. How did you react to that?
I was so surprised but it felt great. I just had this new-found confidence to go and pursue what I really wanted. It suddenly became possible to follow my dreams!
What happened next?
After lots of research, I settled on a vocal diploma at ICMP London. I went there on an open day and it just felt like the right fit for what I wanted to do, my budget and how long I wanted to study for. It was super scary leaving the comfort of a well-paying and respectable career in the city, but it was just the best decision I ever made!
How did you handle your finances to make your career change possible?
I’m definitely one of those people who is happy to take the plunge and then work all the details out later! Since leaving my job at WH Ireland, I’ve always found a way to make money work and have just always been open to taking on extra side roles to support myself. I’ve taught music, worked for a music agency, as well as all the odd jobs I’ve taken on along the way. It’s definitely true that the money I’ve earnt since leaving is nothing like what I could have earned if I had stayed, but my god I’m so much happier!
What have been your highs since working in the music industry?
Actually there have been a lot! But probably, most recently some of the real highs has been singing on a multi-award winning video game, for which I was also awarded best soloist. It was incredibly exciting to be asked to sing to open the BAFTA game awards, but sadly it got cancelled due to COVID-19.
For my work as a composer, I also won the Abbey Road music scoring completion, which felt pretty wonderful. And then I suppose this year my music has notched up 2 million streams on Spotify, reaching 157 countries, and has been playlisted on top Spotify playlists.
That sounds like quite the ride, Jenny! OK, so thinking about your transition into the music industry, what would you do differently?
It’s a really interesting question. The first thing that comes to mind is that I just wish I had started earlier! I feel like I missed out on some important experience when I was younger. It’s taken me a long time to get where I am and to have built my confidence up to where it is now – so I could have definitely benefited from gigging at an earlier age.
I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, like joining bands that were a bit of a waste of time, but honestly it’s hard to say I’d do it much differently when all those experiences were an important part of my learning and personal growth. I’ve recently found coaching to be a great way to focus on my goals and work towards them more efficiently, so I think finding coaching earlier too would have got me here faster!
I know it’s quite common when transitioning to something more creative to have self-limiting beliefs and particularly financial fears around doing so. What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about changing to a more creative career?
So much! But I think the most important thing is that I know quite a few people who have taken the plunge like me, and I don’t know a single person who’s regretted their decision. Your income might not be the same, but in my case it was a sacrifice worth making because my happiness has increased ten-fold. I believe that if you want something enough, it’s possible to find a way to work it out…I’m living proof! So just do it! If you’ve got the passion and the drive, you will create opportunities for yourself and you’ll be so much more fulfilled by doing what you actually enjoy, and I really don’t think you can put a price on that!
Jenny, thank you so much for your time and wise words. I think that perfectly concludes our interview and will hopefully inspire someone reading this to make that leap towards career fulfilment.
To hear more of Jenny's work, you can visit her Spotify page, or follow her on Instagram.
If you’re inspired by Jenny’ story and would like to seek out coaching to help support your transition, please schedule in an exploratory call via the Get In Touch page.