L.A. Times

         Sunday, October 8, 2000
           Home Edition
           Section; Work Place
           Page: W1
Career Make-Over I Southern Californians Learning How to Improve Their Careers

                         Manager Has Time, World of Possibilities for Midlife Shift

     Deanie Penney is a woman in demand. As the corporate services/facilities manager of a Monrovia company, Penney, 57, spends her days fielding calls from employees about electrical outages, water leaks, temperature spikes and overflowing toilets.
     "It's constant, and the work's never done," she said. "Someone's always calling--'Jt's too hot,' 'It's too  cold,' 'Something's broken.' There are some days I can't walk down the hall without three or four people stopping me."
   The Pomona resident has been with her company 19 years. She worked her way into management ranks from secretary. Though she may retire in five years, Penney wants to make the most of her remaining years in the work force. These days, however, Penney finds herself wondering what her next career challenge might be.
     A few years ago, Penney began to daydream about more creative options: interior design, entertaining, traveling. But she worried that she'd have to take a hefty cut in her $70,000-a-year earnings to follow these pursuits. She also briefly considered becoming a clinical psychologist, but realized she'd have to spend years in graduate school before she could enter the profession.
     For help, Penney consulted Kathleen Brehony, a psychotherapist, coach and the author of "Awakening at Midlife: A Guide to Reviving Your Spirit, Recreating Your Life and Returning to Your  Truest Self' (Riverhead Books, 1997).
     Penney's search for career fulfillment in late midlife is not unusual, Brehony said. During this phase, individuals often reassess their life choices. They may question their personal identity, values and goals. They may find themselves shifting attitudes, rearranging priorities and searching for new meaning in their personal and work lives.

   Brehony urged Penney not to regard herself as too old to learn new skills or embark upon a somewhat radical career change. She pointed out, after studying Penney's resume and  biographical writings, that Penney had a multitude of highly valuable--and transferable--skills, and had showed prowess in risk-taking, bearing responsibility, organizing and overseeing projects from beginning to  end.
     Penney and Brehony discussed three career options that might intrigue and challenge Penney:

       * Global facitities management services: One of the best ways Penney could utilize her extensive building operations skills, maintain her salary, travel and take on new challenges would be to find employment at a large facilities management concern that oversees properties for many corporate customers, Brehony said. Penney expressed great interest in this possibility.
     Instead of supervising operations for a single firm as she's doing now, Penney could join a facilities management company such as Service Resources Inc. (http://www.servicesresourcesinc.com)  in Marietta, Ga., which last year was named one of the 100 fastest-growing new companies by Entrepreneur magazine; Johnson Controls Integrated Facilities Management (http://www.jci.com) in Atlanta, which  Industry Week four times named one of the world's 100 best-managed companies; or FM Strategies (http:// www.fmstrategies.com) in Charlotte, N.C.
     Penney would find more opportunities for  promotion at such firms and, depending upon her position, would be able to travel to the numerous sites she would oversee.
   Penney so could consider developing a specialty in her field. She could do this by gaining experience overseeing particular types of organizations, such as public schools, universities, corporate sites and hospitals.
     Sodexho Marriott Services (httn://www.sodexhomarriott.com), the nation's largest provider of food and facilities management services, structures its divisions this way and hires general managers, district managers and vice presidents with expertise in those areas, said Diane Newmier, vice president/recruitment for the Gaithersburg, Md.-based firm.
     If Penney would prefer to manage overseas properties, she could contact companies such as Danka Services International (http://www.dankasi.com) in Rochester, N.Y., which supervises 450 sites for its corporate  customers in 12 countries.
     * International tour directing: Penney also is interested in directing international tours. Her years as a facilities manager make her a good  contender for this work.
     "A lot of people start this career in midlife, said Tomiko Russell, projects manager at the International Tour Management Jnstitute in San Francisco.
     International tour directors must be professional, courteous, enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about the destinations they visit. They must be able to handle social predicaments such as illnesses, deaths, spats, lost travelers and stolen belongings and be talented improvisers, for travel plans can change quickly.

   You have to really like people, because you'll be around them 24/7," said Karen Silva, chairwoman of the International Hotel School at Johnson & Wales University in  Providence, R.I., and a former tour director.
     Many gain knowledge about specific destinations by first visiting the sites on personal vacations, Silva said. During the trips, they also learn firsthand about visa restrictions, passport requirements, border crossings and international health regulations.
   Guides can make nearly $3,000 for 14 days work. They typically are paid $75 to $100 a day in salary, earn a comparable amount in tips, and, in many cases, rake in commissions by selling "options," additional travel and sightseeing packages not included in their groups' set fare, Russell said.
     But few tour directors work year-round. An even tinier fraction opt to stay in the business for more than a few years.
     "You can only live out of a suitcase for so long," Silva said. "It is a fun job, but not something people do for a long time."
     Should Penney be interested in pursuing this line of work, she may contact ITMI (http ://www.itmitourtraining.com),  which will be offering two Los Angeles-area training sessions beginning in January. She also can build up her tour-directing experience by serving as a guide for Southern California-based attractions.
     "This is a good first step to learn how to present information in an interesting manner," Silva said.

   * Nonprofit educational outreach: Penney said she would enjoy giving speeches, educating the public and leading tours while supporting a good cause. Information about nonprofit careers, as well as a list of nonprofit job openings, is available at
     Penney is paying off bills so that, should an exciting career opportunity arise, she  can consider it, no matter what its compensation. Brehony encouraged Penney to spend at least 10 minutes a day visualizing herself in a job that would make her happy. She also asked Penney to do additional research  about each career option, schedule informational interviews, read articles about the fields and avoid colleagues who try to discourage her from pursuing her dreams.

                           For past Career Make-Overs, visit httD://www.latimes.com/careermake.

Deanie Penney Occupation: Corporate services/facilities manager Desired occupation: Uncertain Quote: "I'd like to get into a position where I can help people and talk to people about things other  than broken toilets."

Meet the Coach Kathleen Brehony is a licensed clinical psychologist; Jungian-oriented psychotherapist; personal and business coach; and author of "Awakening at Midlife: A Guide to Reviving Your Spirit, Recreating Your Life and Returning to Your Truest Self" (Riverhead Books - PenguinPutnam, 1996).  She is based in Los Angeles and Norfolk, VA.

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