Career Makeover

By Jane M. Von Bergen
The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Always, after past recessions, Hollis Thomases managed to resurrect her marketing business, but this time, she just didn’t have the energy “to get back on the horse.”

And truthfully, that stallion had turned into a nag, and not much fun to ride.

So, instead, Thomases, 50, decided to reinvent herself — as a reinvention specialist, launching a business to work with people who want to change their lives or already have.

“I’ve reinvented myself more than once,” Thomases said.

Maybe the three dozen people who attended a program developed by Thomases didn’t realize it, but they were helping Thomases test her reinvention.

At “Reinvention Works After 45,” held Wednesday at WHYY in Center City, they networked. They traded inspiration and support and heard panelists talk about their reinventions — triumphs, maxing out credit cards, going from having enough money to own a BMW to having so little that a newspaper subscription broke the budget.

Wednesday’s panel included Steve Grasse, 50, an advertising agency executive reinvented as a manufacturer of spirits, and Lynn Bardowski, 53, a corporate saleswoman whose new network business sells candles at house parties.

Also speaking was former DuPont material sciences engineer Ronald Kander, 56, reinvented as an academician and dean of Philadelphia University’s engineering and design college.

In the audience were people like Rhona Gerber, an event planner whose business dissolved after 17 years. “I’m trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up,” she said.

Necessity may force reinvention on Jeffrey Banet, who is about to become unemployed.

He specializes in selling alcohol. Should his next step be as an employee, or should he become an entrepreneur again? Should it be inside sales or a new business as outside sales organization for the area’s small breweries?

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