Iesha Small

writing, career pivots, side hustles

Build you career like an entrepreneur.

Why I took a significant pay cut to change my life

Let’s talk numbers about career pivots.

In 2016 I was paid £55k as an assistant headteacher.

I was in on-site from at least 0730-1800 most weekdays. On Fridays I left at 1530 to take my son to karate.

I realised I wanted to leave teaching but had no idea what to do.

I got offered a cool job in policy and research but it meant taking a £15k – £20k pay cut.

We couldn’t afford that.

We had kids aged 3,3 and 6 and I was the main earner. Day care was more than our mortgage. We had under £1k in emergency savings.

I came up with an exit plan that took two years to implement.

The transition

It involved demoting myself, teaching part time alongside part-time work doing policy.

At the end of the two years I’d written a book and we now had three months’ worth of expenses saved. I was ready.

I stopped teaching. I worked as a policy geek and researcher for 3.5 days a week.

It was a 40% pay cut. But I was now more flexible than I’d ever been. I went into the office once a week and the rest was remote.

I went to the kids’ sports days for the first time ever.

In a year or so I got offered another job. This one matched the salary I had in teaching.
By now I also did consultancy on the side. I was able to work from beautiful places like the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales.

Pandemic and opportunity

Soon covid hit. My job was a rolling contract and permanent hiring was frozen.

I got approached about another, permanent job. I got it. Another pay rise. I learnt what life inside a major funder was like.

I just started another role. It’s a move into a new area – communications – and matched my previous salary.

Leaving school leadership was scary. I didn’t know what I was doing. I had to plan for ages and I took a big pay cut. It was tough for a short while.

But whenever I’ve pivoted since, I’ve done it quicker and I’ve matched or exceeded my income esp when you take my consulting into account.

What about you?

My life and career now are unrecognizable from when I left teaching 6 years ago. It’s noticeable enough for people who know me to ask how I did it. Sometimes I don’t believe it myself.

If you are thinking of switching from a leadership role in one field into something different in another field. You can do it. You’re smart and resourceful and well connected enough to work it out.

If you want to speed the process up and work with somebody who’s done it a few times stick around.

I’m currently helping a pilot cohort make their career pivot in a structured way. It’s worked for me and others. I’ll be posting learning to help you as we go.

Build your career like an entrepreneur.

I’m Iesha,

I help leaders career pivot to work they enjoy and create opportunities and freedom. We use frameworks and strategy for repeatable results. 

Engineer → Assistant Headteacher → Head of Comms + Business Owner

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Why I took a significant pay cut to change my life