Updated: Jul 2
This article is a part of our monthly Women Evolve(d): How She Did It Series
Each month we feature inspirational women who have made it to the other side of career change. Read about how they did it and take away usable tips from their career journeys! This month, we're proud to feature Ramona Thomas who fully embodies the spirit of reinvention!
A PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, she began her career doing mission driven work focused on education. And then - a hard pivot! She followed her passion, founding My Chocolate Soul, an all-natural chocolate business.
Her last professional transformation led to her role as a Financial Advisor for Ameriprise Financial Services. Ramona is passionate about empowering women with their finances in order to live their best lives. What is your personal mantra, mission or manifesto?
Take a chance and live the life of your dreams. If things don't go as planned, reset and keep moving forward.
What inspired you to launch your current career/launch your business? I started working with my financial advisor in my late 20s and he changed my mindset about money. Working with him helped me do things I had not imagined (e.g., starting and running a business).
Watching other women trying to put the financial pieces of their lives together (especially small business owners) inspired me to pay forward what my advisor did for me. I wanted to create a safe, guiltless, judgement-free space where women could get trusted advice and feel empowered to live their best lives. What is unique about returning/pivoting in midlife? Challenges & opportunities? A little context. I do not live my life in fear. I follow my heart and listen to my inner self in pursuing my interests. I have pivoted midlife twice and, for me, there was this conviction, a calling, leading me. I trust that I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing.
At this stage in my life, I have many more professional and personal experiences to draw on, more confidence to not have a comfort zone and know that I will be fine, and the wisdom to trust my instincts.
I also believe my prior positions and professional experiences were purposeful preparation for my current role. Even if they seem tangentially related or unrelated altogether, they each helped shaped who I am, contributed to my knowledge , enhanced my skill set, and more.
I think the biggest challenge in returning to work or pivoting to something new midlife is the thought that “I’m too old to start something new” or “I don’t want to start all over.” Please let that mindset go.
There are, of course, other challenges, but I try to view them as problem-solving opportunities or tests of my conviction or tenacity. It is not easy, but I stay focused on the opportunities I have to learn and grow and help or serve others in my work. What’s one intention you have for your work in 2020? My 2020 goal is to meet and have conversations with 20 new people every month. What are you most passionate about right now? Right now, I am helping women of all ages pursue their goals and take control over their finances, and I absolutely love it!
What does a typical day look like for you? I read, journal, pray, and exercise every morning. After that, no two days are the same. I generally spend most of my time talking with people and servicing clients.
What’s the one thing that has advanced your career in the last year? Networking. I've made amazing connections and met incredible people.
Who’s your “tribe” when it comes to professional inspiration or support?
My family and a tight group of friends I've had for many years. They have supported every move, every job change, every startup.
Favorite book, app or podcast? Favorite app: Day One
You’re granted an extra hour in the day, how do you spend it? Sleep.
The advice I wish I had given to my 20 year old self is… Life goes really fast: stop worrying about what's next and make sure you enjoy where you are while you're there. I mean really enjoy it!
The advice that I want to give to my 75 year old self is... Remember to watch the sun set, look for the moon, notice the pretty flowers, and enjoy a good piece of chocolate. Your theme song that played every time you walked in a room would be? Make It Happen by Mariah Carey Best career advice for other women? If you haven't already, do the one thing you've always wanted to do. You owe it to yourself to try.
When did you feel you got “you” back?
When I closed my small business after eight years. I had been completely consumed by the business for a couple of years. I was working 20-22-hour days. I neglected myself, and my family and friends were worried about me.
It was a difficult decision but as soon as I made it and said it out loud (a business coach helped!), I immediately felt like a mountain had been lifted off my shoulders.
What’s up next? Finding different things to do this summer in lieu of concerts, outdoor festivals, summer blockbusters, etc.