Your first act is school, your second act is work, but have you thought about what you’re going to do in your third act? Join host Liz Tinkham, a former Accenture Senior Managing Director, as she talks to guests who are happily “pretired” – enjoying their time, treasure, and talent to pursue their purpose and passion in the third act of their life.
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Today, Liz talks with Katherine Lucey, The Solar Sister. How does a bored housewife from Maine go on to empower 6,000 African women to light up 2M households? Katherine Lucey was a Wall Street banker who took a few years off to be with her kids. At one point, they told her she didn’t have enough to do, so she found an organization in Uganda that combined her knowledge of microfinance and energy with a passion for empowering women. Solar Sister, a social benefit company, trains women to sell small, energy efficient, inexpensive solar powered lanterns throughout their rural villages.
Ten years and 2 million lights later, Katherine was recently recognized for her impact by Fortune, becoming part of the Fortune 50 over 50 Impact list. But with over 600M households still needing light, Katherine has lots more to do. Join Liz for this inspiring conversation with Katherine Lucey.
2:00 The 50 over 50 award
5:00 Taking a break from investment banking
7:30 Solar installations in Uganda
13:00 The Solar Sister model
14:00 The Mother’s Union
18:00 2 million lights in Africa
20:30 Building financial inclusion
25:30 The impact of climate change
27:30 Working in Africa
If you enjoyed the podcast, please subscribe and share a review. Engage with more stories of those finding fulfillment in the third act of their lives on Liz Tinkham’s Third Act podcast at thirdactpodcast.com.
Liz Tinkham (00:14):
Hi, this is Liz Tinkham and welcome to Third Act, a podcast about people embracing the third act of their lives with a new sense of purpose and direction. The Third Act begins when your script ends, but your show’s not finished.
Liz Tinkham (00:33):
Hi everyone, and welcome to Third Act. Today I talk with Katherine Lucey, the Solar Sister. So how does a bored housewife from Maine go on to empowering 6,000 African women to light up two million households? Katherine Lucey was a Wall Street banker who took a few years off to be with her kids. At one point, they told her that she didn’t have enough to do. So she found an organization in Uganda that combined her knowledge of microfinance and energy, with a passion for empowering women. She founded Solar Sister, a social benefit company that trains women to sell small, energy efficient and inexpensive solar powered lanterns throughout the rural villages. 10 years later, and two million lights later, Katherine was recently recognized for the impact she’s making by Fortune, becoming part of the Fortune 50 over 50 impact list.
Liz Tinkham (01:27):
But with over 600 million households still needing light, Katherine has lots more to do. Join me for this really inspiring conversation with Katherine Lucey.
Liz Tinkham (01:43):
Katherine, welcome to Third Act.
Katherine Lucey (01:44):
Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
Liz Tinkham (01:47):
Congratulations on being part of the Fortune 50 over 50 impact list. So tell us what does that mean to be on the list and how’d you find out that you won?
Katherine Lucey (01:56):
Well, it’s incredibly rewarding and really an honor to be on the list. I feel pretty humbled by it because I think that it’s the 50 over 50 creating impact. When I think about creating impact, this is definitely not something I do all by myself. So that title, 50 over 50 creating impact, I feel like I’m the over 50 part of it and my team is the creating impact part of it. So it’s a joint effort that we work together to do this. So I have an incredible team that I work with at Solar Sister, creating impact.
Katherine Lucey (02:31):
I heard about the award by someone sending me an email congratulating me, and I was like, “What is this?” And so then I went and looked it up and pulled it up and found out that I was on the list.
Liz Tinkham (02:42):
Oh my goodness. Well, we’ll come back to Solar Sister and winning that award. But I want to start with your humble beginnings back in college, sort of your first act. So you’re journalism major from Georgia with an MBA. So what happened to journalism, because you ended up on Wall Street?
Katherine Lucey (02:57):
I did. Yeah, I’ve always loved writing and storytelling. I think that’s a core of what I do and went into the journalism school at University of Georgia. They have a great journalism school down there in Athens, really enjoyed it, about communications. But when I got out, I was drawn towards business. I knew that I wanted to get into business as much as I loved the storytelling and the journalism. I did some freelance work, but pretty much went back to grad school right away.
Katherine Lucey (03:27):
So I started working in Atlanta at the time for an international organization that was doing commodities trading, which was pretty fun and going to school at night. So I got my degree at night at Georgia State University and then worked for a bank at the International Trading Organization. I used some of my business school skills and started doing some foreign exchange trading for them. That shifted me over into banking and from banking into investment banking.
Liz Tinkham (03:57):
You and I graduated from college about this same time and I don’t think I knew anybody in generally went into investment banking, but let alone any women. So how’d you end up on Wall Street and what was it like then?
Katherine Lucey (04:08):
Yeah. So I came in through the back door. At the time, there was the usual path onto Wall Street was through maybe some Ivy league school. I ended up coming in out of Georgia through banking because I had gotten onto the trading floor for foreign exchange and ended up in New York doing foreign exchange. And then from foreign exchange moved over to other areas of the trading floor and into the credit department, and then into project finance in the energy sector.
Katherine Lucey (04:39):
So I’ve been around a bit. I did a lot of different things in my career, which was really great because it gave me exposure to a lot of different aspects of business and finance and eventually energy and project finance and mergers and acquisitions. So I had a very broad base of financial and business background.
Liz Tinkham (05:02):
So you’re in that for about 20 years, which is amazing. And then you take a break. Why did you decide then to take a break from investment banking and banking in general?
Katherine Lucey (05:10):
Yeah. So two things came together at the same time. One is I had been in it for 20 years and the industry had changed quite a bit. I loved it when it was … I was able to do a lot of problem solving and I felt like I was really learning and we were serving clients, and it was very much building relationships with clients. And then around that time I was in investment banking and it became more about just doing deals and less about relationships. It was just that part, it wasn’t, I loved doing deals. But it just became less soulful, I guess, the work that I was doing. I also had children, so I had just given birth to my fifth child. So I decided that-
Liz Tinkham (05:55):
Oh my goodness.
Katherine Lucey (05:56):
… it was time to stay home with the kids for a little while. Yeah.
Liz Tinkham (06:00):
Oh yeah. I can understand that. So is this when you end up in Maine?
Katherine Lucey (06:04):
Right. We were living in Maine at the time.
Liz Tinkham (06:06):
As you said to me, you were telling me that your kids at one point said that you needed more to do.
Katherine Lucey (06:11):
Liz Tinkham (06:12):
I had a similar reaction. My then 17 year old. This was a few years ago when I retired. He said to me, “17 years, without your energy directed right at me, go find something else to do.” Right?
Katherine Lucey (06:23):
Liz Tinkham (06:23):
What did you … Yeah. I mean, it is a lot, especially when you have a career job, how did you figure out what to do next?
Katherine Lucey (06:30):
So after I left banking and we were looking on an island in Maine, it was a very big jump-
Liz Tinkham (06:35):
I can imagine.
Katherine Lucey (06:37):
… and staying home with the kids for the first time, full time, sort of that same example. I directed a lot of my energy towards maybe their science projects or making gourmet dinners or things like this. And I was like, “I really need to get something, get my hands on something, get involved.” So I started getting involved with different organizations that really spoke to what I cared about. So it was environmental organizations or women’s empowerment. I was really interested at the time…that was when microfinance was really just beginning to be developed. I was really fascinated by this availability of finance and very small loans to women, really opening the door for women to improve their lives. I thought that was something that was just amazing to use the financial tools and technologies to really improve lives.
Katherine Lucey (07:29):
During this time I came across a small family foundation that was doing solar installations in Uganda for schools and clinics and even an entire village. They went and put solar panels on the roof of every home in the village. By working with them, ended up actually traveling to Uganda and climbing up on those roads and putting the solar panels up there and got to see first hand what it meant at the household level to have access to energy. In my banking, I was energy finance. So I knew like at the big country infrastructure level that no country comes into the modern era without access to energy. And then with this, what I got to see was at the household level, exactly the same is true. That people need access to light and energy just to pull themselves up into being able to care for their families. Being able to run a small business, being able to cook dinner or children do homework and all of these very, very basic fundamental things that are at the core of wellbeing and a family life and productivity.
Katherine Lucey (08:38):
So I thought, “Well, got to see firsthand what distributed solar energy could make available to people who live off the grid.” So these are rural households in Sub-Saharan Africa, where there is no access to electricity. And so they’re currently lighting their homes with kerosene or candles. They are cooking over open three stone fires using up tremendous amounts of wood or charcoal just to put dinner on the table and the amount of time burden that adds to a woman’s day, the amount of economics that costs the family, if they’re buying charcoal, or if they’re buying kerosene for lighting. It’s actually an incredibly expensive way to light your home.
Katherine Lucey (09:22):
So with distributed energy available through solar, it’s not only cleaner, better for the environment, better for health, better lighting, better, safer, no more fires, no more burns. All of this comes together just being such an obviously superior choice of how to provide energy for your home. But it’s also cheaper. At that time, there was a big shift in the solar design. So the prices came down tremendously for the solar panels and the products started being designed so that instead of being like a big panel and an inverter in a battery and a bunch of wires and kind of complicated construction, all of a sudden we had very simple, integrated solar products where someone could buy a simple lamp and it was very intuitive. You put it outside in the light, it has a solar panel built into it. You bring it inside at night, you push one button and you have light for the entire evening. So this was something that anybody could use, very little technical knowhow needed, and it just solved so many problems. And then they never had to purchase kerosene again.
Katherine Lucey (10:31):
So for a family that had been spending maybe two to $4 a week, just on kerosene just for light, they could buy what cost at the time, a $20 lamp and prices have continued to decrease. So that same lamp is about $5 now. So you could buy a lamp for $5, or you could spend $4 on kerosene. With the lamp you have light for the next five years or more. These are incredibly durable and long lasting or with the kerosene, you have light for a week. The economics are just compelling that this is a good thing to do.
Katherine Lucey (11:08):
That’s when I started thinking about, “Well, if this is so smart, if this helps people, if this impact is amazing and it’s available, affordable, why isn’t this taking off? Why doesn’t everybody switch out of kerosene and use solar?”
Liz Tinkham (11:23):
Right. And this, you’re still looking at it in Uganda?
Katherine Lucey (11:26):
Right. But it was really applied across Sub-Saharan Africa and other places in the world and really looked at what was the obstacle. And the two obstacles were last mile geographic access. So that’s just getting the products to the people. That’s just a classic challenge of getting products out into remote areas. So solving for the geographic access. And then the second issue was that we were bringing a technology solution into a household problem. And so these are rural households. Women are the ones who manage the household energy. They’re the ones who collect the firewood. They collect the kerosene to pour in the lanterns. They turn on the lamps at night, they clean the lanterns the next day. They’re the ones managing the household’s energy and they needed to be the ones who then were comfortable making this transition to using solar instead.
Katherine Lucey (12:21):
So in order to reach them, these are poor households who don’t have a lot of money to throw away on experimentation or take the risk that something might not work or something like that, very conservative consumers. But in order to convince that woman to make the leap and buy a solar lamp, she had to know about it. She had to trust it, trust the technology, trust who was selling it to her. That’s what ended up becoming the core principles of Solar Sister, which is a network of local women.
Katherine Lucey (12:56):
We train women who live in that community to build a business where they’re selling these solar lamps to their community. They’re using their networks of family, friends, and neighbors. They’re selling based on, she’ll say, “I use this lamp at home and my baby’s no longer coughing. My daughter is studying at night, is now at the top of her class.” And then another woman will say, “Hey, I want that for me.” You know, she’ll connect with that. And so she’ll say, “Well, where can I get one of those?” And she’ll be like, “Okay.” And so that’s how they make their sales, is really selling on the benefits of these products, the benefits, the really tangible, concrete, immediate benefits of these products for their communities.
Katherine Lucey (13:37):
So it’s just really incredible powerful network of sales women. It’s a little along the lines of Avon, but instead of selling makeup, they’re selling solar products and clean energy products.
Liz Tinkham (13:53):
You told me earlier about this mothers union that you met in Uganda. Talk about that?
Katherine Lucey (13:58):
When I first came up with the idea of, okay, these solar products are affordable, available, appropriate, let’s get them into the hands of people. How do we do that? Maybe we could get people to sell them. Maybe we could have this women’s network, Avon style women’s network selling these lanterns. But what do I know? I’m from not Uganda. So I was like, “I don’t know if this will actually work.” So I approached a woman that I knew, her name was Sarah Kasuli. She was head of the Mother’s Union in Uganda. And so the Mother’s Union is the women’s committees of the Anglican church in Uganda. So in every small town, there is a Mother’s Union committee. And these are the women who are sort of the power. They’re the powerhouse of that community. They are the movers and the shakers. If you want anything get done, ask one of them to get it done, because they are deeply embedded in their communities, deeply committed to the welfare of their communities.
Katherine Lucey (14:54):
So I asked Sarah if she thought it would work, that we would be able to sell these products. Because I knew she knew at the community level how things worked. And she responded that she didn’t know either, but the only way to figure it out was to try. So we took a couple boxes of these solar lanterns. They look like just a small lamp and took them out to Lydia, who was the very first Solar Sister and said, “Here’s two boxes of these lanterns. Do you think you could sell them?” And she ran a little general store in her town. So she put them up on the shelf and started to sell them. By the time Sarah and I got back to Kampala that afternoon, Lydia called and said, “Okay, now what?” Because she had sold all of the lamps we had given her and she was like, “What do we do next?” I thought, “Well, I don’t know.” I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I was just like, I was just kind of thinking like-
Liz Tinkham (15:49):
You’re just trying it.
Katherine Lucey (15:49):
“I wonder if this would work.” And so I was like, “Well then send us the money that you got from selling the lamps and we’ll send you a whole new shipment of lamps.” And that really began the process of really building this as a business where Lydia first and then many, many, many other solar sister entrepreneurs who later joined, they purchased lamps. They add their markup to make it a retail price and sell it to their networks. That markup that they add is their income to keep. So they’re building a business, they’re earning money, they’re creating this distribution network for these products that are really making an impact in their community. So it’s this true social enterprise where there’s this social good that comes from enterprise.
Liz Tinkham (16:31):
How much time were you spending in Africa at that point?
Katherine Lucey (16:34):
So I live here in the United States and this was happening over in Africa. So I have, over the years, spent a lot of time traveling, but one of the first things I did and this has turned out to be just really, I think the backbone of our success was, I tapped into local talent. I hired a young woman who became our first country director and really gave her the power and the authority to get the business up and running. And she then hired local staff and that local staff then goes out and recruits the women entrepreneurs. So it’s very much a local business. It operates completely, it’s registered locally. It operates like a local business. It is run 100% by local staff. Although we do provide support from the United States and certainly in funding and in supporting with strategy and direction. It is the local team that is making this happen.
Katherine Lucey (17:42):
So circling back to that very first comment about creating impact. I take very much a backseat because the impact is being created by that team on the ground on a day to day basis.
Liz Tinkham (17:53):
I think you said you founded it in 2011, is that correct?
Katherine Lucey (17:57):
Liz Tinkham (17:58):
How many lights have you sold/houses lit up? What are some of your statistics?
Katherine Lucey (18:04):
Yeah, so we have reached over 2 million people with energy access, woman by woman, bird by bird. It happens just one after the other. That’s with these by building out over 6,000 local women’s businesses across Uganda, Tanzania, and Nigeria.
Liz Tinkham (18:25):
Wow. So you have 6,000 women, feet on the street, selling Solar Sister lanterns, and I assume growing, continuing to grow?
Katherine Lucey (18:33):
Yes. So it grows because each woman, we’re really helping her grow her individual business. That is really the bulk of our work is supporting them, providing training and support, logistic support, supply chain support, giving them a business training program, which is business skills, technology skills, and agency based training. Which is really some of the softer skills of confidence and belief in yourself and removing your limitations and some of those things.
Katherine Lucey (19:05):
So we provide this training program. As they come and get their training, they form bonds with the other entrepreneurs. And then that network, that sort of peer to peer support, plus the training we give, plus the on-the-job learning by doing, which is what entrepreneurship is really all about. Those three things combined, each entrepreneur operates her business very independently, but with support from this entire network.
Katherine Lucey (19:38):
So as they become more skilled in their business, as they gain more experience, they grow and thrive and that business is shaped to meet their particular needs. So we have entrepreneurs who are maybe operate seasonally because they’re also farmers. And so they operate in the off seasons to keep cash coming into the household or maybe they’re teachers, and there’s a couple times a year where they have an influx of students and that they know that they have this great audience for purchasing solar lights, because the families want to support their children learning. So we have all kinds of entrepreneurs and that is what really makes this a woman’s business, is because they’re able to shape it to fit their needs.
Liz Tinkham (20:23):
I also read that Solar Sister was included in a book about financial inclusion. So tell us what that means and why is that important in the areas where you work?
Katherine Lucey (20:32):
So part of the support that we provide them, one of the lessons is business lessons is understanding how to manage your money, understanding the difference between your capital and your profit. How to reinvest your capital, how to make good choices about what to do with your profits. If you spend it, if you invest it in business, if you invest it in another business, what are you going to do with it? So this financial literacy of, where do you put your savings? How do you save money? How do you invest money? How can you borrow money? If you have borrowed money, how do you manage credit? How do you extend credit? If you’re going to extend credit in your business, what are the risks of that?
Katherine Lucey (21:16):
So this is all part of the training that we provide them and really bringing them into a more literate financial understanding so that they can operate their business well optimally and really safely.
Katherine Lucey (21:33):
So for women are often outside of formal financial structures. They don’t have sometimes what you need in order to take out a loan from a bank, because maybe the bank requires collateral in the form of land. Women may not have the title to the land because of cultural or legal issues. So there’s all kinds of ways that women are outside of the formal financial opportunities. So bringing them inside, so helping them understand, how can they build up those, what they need in order to start accessing credit, in order to start making savings, in order to start setting up a wealth plan instead of just earning income.
Liz Tinkham (22:20):
Yeah. So for them and for their families, right? To kind of sustain them.
Liz Tinkham (22:29):
What are the goals for Solar Sister? Where are you headed?
Katherine Lucey (22:31):
We have reached a level where we have found success. We found some traction in what we’re doing. We’ve proven that reaching out to women and really tapping into their capabilities and their networks and their ambitions to take care of their families, to earn a living, to take care of themselves, to build a business, to thrive. This is something that is abundantly available with intention. You can shape business opportunity to meet women’s needs, and that by doing that, you unlock … In our case, we’re focused on energy access and building businesses that bring energy access to remote communities. We’ve shown that by including women in that goal, we are achieving really deep penetration into these remote communities. We are creating that access and we are supporting the women in the process in this kind of mutually supportive circle. So we want to see more of this.
Katherine Lucey (23:37):
We’re working with over 6,000 women have been through Solar Sister. We hope over the next few years to reach 10,000 women. We aim to reach over 10 million people with energy access. That’s still just a drop in the bucket, when you think about that there’s 600 million people who don’t have access to energy. So what our bigger dream is, is while we have this direct impact through these Solar Sister entrepreneurs and the communities that they serve. We also have this indirect impact, which has the potential of being much, much bigger because as people look at Solar Sister and they have that aha moment of like, “Oh, women and energy access go together.” You can’t have one really without the other, that if you’re going to reach, you’re going to leave no one behind in the energy access. Which is one of the SDG goals. If we’re truly going to leave no one behind, we have to consider that women are half the population. So there at least half of who are not going to leave behind, right? We’ve got to get them included.
Liz Tinkham (24:40):
We’d like to hope so. Right?
Katherine Lucey (24:41):
So, as we are a demonstrable example of what can be done and what success you can have by bringing women into a technology solution, others copy us. That’s the big leap is, when everyone thinks that, “Oh, energy access and women’s entrepreneurship go together. Oh, this unlocks true impact when you include women.” When you design programs that are not just benefiting women, but including women as change makers, that’s the biggest impact that we can have.
Liz Tinkham (25:17):
The women there. I mean, I know a lot of Africa is not on a grid that countries have electrified in general. From what you’ve seen, as they start thinking about putting a grid up, if they are … I mean, how does the issue of climate change play over there? I mean, are the women aware of it? Do they talk about it? Is it a generational thing like more of it is here? What is happening with that?
Katherine Lucey (25:39):
I’m really inspired by the women in the communities that we work in, because they are very much aware of climate change because of real exposure to the changing climate. Tanzania is, and Nigeria are largely agricultural communities. Tanzania in particular, overwhelming proportion of the economy and of people’s livelihoods is from agricultural livelihoods. They already know that drought season has changed, that the rainy seasons have changed, that the weather patterns are creating havoc over their livelihoods.
Katherine Lucey (26:20):
So they’re already dealing with the impacts of climate change in a way that I think we’re often protected from as we work in our air conditioned homes or offices, or we go to … Climate change, isn’t just kind of an intellectual for them. It’s here and now, and it’s real. So being able to address, being able to do work that is actually productively addressing climate change is I think very satisfying for them because they get it.
Liz Tinkham (26:58):
I’ve had a couple guests on this show who have worked on solving issues in Africa. I think the word humility is a common across you and others who’ve done it. As a white American woman, what are the obstacles that you’ve faced in trying to help in Africa?
Katherine Lucey (27:13):
That word humility is the first thing that comes to mind, is just recognizing both how different our lives are and understanding that I come with a lot of privilege. I come with a lot of mindset that has been shaped by that privilege. And then on the other hand, recognize how much is the same. We are women with families. We are dealing with big issues that are very, very similar. We want to be able to provide for our family. We want to able to have a future for our children. We want to be able to lead lives of purpose and meaning. That’s all the same wherever you are. So finding that, finding the commonality is overwhelmingly the thing that impresses me when I travel is finding that, “Oh, there’s more alike than there is different.” But also keeping in mind that I do come with all this privilege and I do come with outside’s point of view and that I really need to put aside my thoughts and really listen to what’s what’s happening locally, let local people take the lead. Let the local women tell me what to do rather than the other way around.
Liz Tinkham (28:30):
For our listeners, who might be thinking about doing something similar, like some venture in Africa, for whatever reasons, for a passion project they have, or if they believe they can bring a solution, what advice do you have for them and how to get started?
Katherine Lucey (28:45):
Start with listening. Start with humility, start with … I always think of you solve the problem that’s in front of you. Even though geographically, that doesn’t look like what I’ve done. It was when I started looking at solar as a distributed energy solution, it was the problem that was right in front of me because we were doing these installations on homes and schools and clinics, and realized what an impact it was making and why it wasn’t happening. The problem that placed itself in front of me, and then that called from me all of my background and experience, whether in finance, in project finance and pulling together teams, in problem solving, all of that kind of came to play to solve that solution. And then realizing that I couldn’t do it alone, but that it was going to take this team and especially this team of local people who were living this problem.
Liz Tinkham (29:49):
And the Mother’s Union.
Katherine Lucey (29:51):
Liz Tinkham (29:52):
So I want to go back to the award. You just got the Fortune 50 over 50 Impact Award. What has that meant to Solar Sister and to you personally?
Katherine Lucey (30:01):
Well, it’s a very nice validation or recognition of the work of Solar Sister and the team and the impact that we have created. I think it’s especially rewarding to know that the work that we’re doing affects climate change action and it is work for and with women and that all of that is getting recognized as important work. So I think that’s what’s really rewarding about it.
Liz Tinkham (30:27):
Oh, that’s wonderful. So I almost titled this podcast, I’m not done yet. What aren’t you done with yet?
Katherine Lucey (30:33):
I am not done solving problems because that’s what I do. That’s what keeps me interested and engaged and turning that towards trying to increase the impact that we’re having through Solar Sister and working with more people to do more energy access with more women.
Liz Tinkham (30:58):
Great story. So Katherine, amazing story. Thank you so much for joining the show. I think you had told me when you were prepping, that you were a bored housewife. Well, I don’t think you fit that criteria anymore. The provider of light and economic viability to so many in Africa. We will publish information about solar sister in the show notes. Where can we find you online?
Katherine Lucey (31:19):
So Solar Sister’s website is www.solarsister.org, all one word. We’re on Twitter at solar_sister.
Liz Tinkham (31:30):
Okay. We’ll put that in there. What about you? You’re on LinkedIn, correct?
Katherine Lucey (31:33):
I’m on LinkedIn.
Liz Tinkham (31:35):
Great. People want to reach out. Thanks again.
Katherine Lucey (31:37):
Liz Tinkham (31:40):
Thanks for joining me today to listen to the Third Act Podcast. You can find show notes, guest bios, and more at thirdactpodcast.com. If you enjoyed our show today, please subscribe and write a review on your favorite podcast platform. I’m your host, Liz Tinkham. I’ll be back next week with another guest who’s found new meaning and fulfillment in the third act of their life.
Want to share the story of your own Third Act on our podcast? We welcome stories from executives who pivoted their careers to find their passion and purpose later in their lives. Tell us more about yourself to be considered as a guest.