Friday, 13 May 2016

Mature competence vs youthful ambition: Career break mother wins Masterchef


In case you missed it, the 2016 Masterchef competition was won, last week, by a 50-year-old stay-at-home mum of four. While Masterchef doesn't enjoy the same profile as The Great British Bake Off, the achievement of its winner and the opportunities the winner enjoys can be just as life changing.

It was clear to me in the final week of the competition that Jane Devonshire would be the winner, not simply because of her skillful and creative cooking but because of her character. Her maturity, self-knowledge, leadership and unflappability gave her the edge over her younger, seemingly more energetic and ambitious, male rivals. While one of the three finalists was running round in ever more desperate circles as he had done throughout the competition and the other succumbed to the pressure, Jane was a picture of serene competence, calming executing all her dishes perfectly. In winning, she exemplified so many of the aspects which we know make returners valuable to employers.

It was only in the final episode of the competition that we heard more of Jane's story. She had started work as soon as she left school and by the time she was married and expecting her first child she had built up her own successful business. However, despite only seeing herself as a career woman up to this point, becoming a mother changed her perspective, as it often does, and she chose to leave her business to focus full-time on her family. Entering Masterchef was the first thing she had done for herself in many years and from a nervous start, she visibly grew in self-belief and assurance as she progressed through the rounds.

In the final episode, Jane also revealed that she had overcome cancer twice in the previous decade. Her win was a triumphant assertion that reinvention and a return to work that you love can be achieved. As I've said previously, entering a televised national competition might be an extreme way to regain your self-belief, but I hope Jane's example might inspire you to think about some small steps you can take to return to your professional path.


Posted by Katerina

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