How many times have you dreamed of a career do-over? These four Marinites chose to revamp their professional worlds midlife.
Former Occupation: Financial Services
Current Occupation: Sea Captain
“I’ve always been on the water and around boats. But never getting paid for it,” says Peter Scott — nay, Captain Peter Scott — who in 2015 sailed away from the career he had cultivated.
“I started sailing out of the San Francisco Yacht Club [in Belvedere] around age 9, then racing locally, then nationally and then internationally,” he recalls.
When it came time to chart a professional course, he opted for financial services. Scott began his path in funds in the mid-1990s at the Pacific Stock Exchange, followed by various financial services positions and culminating in the creation of his own company, Glacier Point Capital LLC, replete with a registered investment adviser and a broker dealer.
“My partner and I sold our company in 2014,” says Scott. “After that I looked around for another financial services position, and I came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t happening in San Francisco.” Fortunately, on-the-water services certainly do.
“Another captain called and got me thinking about joining [the boating industry], getting my captain’s license and taking that route. It was a growing industry,” Scott says. “You have to have a certain number of hours, a certain number of days on the boat and things like that. I had all of that; it was an easy transition for me to turn it into a professional license.”
Scott got his Merchant Marine Credential (Master, 100 Ton) from the United States Coast Guard in 2016, at age 49, and is now a full-time captain, working on a freelance basis with S.F. Boat Support and other charter boat services and growing a private ferry service. “The funny thing about this whole thing is, I look back and think, ‘Shoot, I should’ve done this 20 years ago,’ ” he says.
Former Occupation: Tech Executive
Current Occupation: Esthetician
Ten days before the birth of her first son, Allison Quistgard-Scherer woke to discover that half of her face was paralyzed. “I knew what it was, because my cousin had Bell’s palsy before I did,” she says. “It was really a difficult time. We never really realize how much we take our faces, or our looks, for granted.”
As Quistgard-Scherer began to navigate her next steps, she found herself drawn toward the familiarity of her career in tech. After all, this was a field within which she had bounced around for well over a decade, working for companies like Oracle, and ultimately landing the role of vice president of sales for Ethan Lynn Consulting.
But a decade later, at age 47, she gave it all up.
“My paralysis played a huge role in my internal need to make a change,” she says. “Even though I knew I would make a fraction of what I was earning, technology felt empty to me. I needed to be hands-on — literally.” And so the mother of two — now single — went back to school to pursue a career as an esthetician.
“It’s a crazy time to change, you know? Divorced single mom. It’s expensive to live in Marin,” Quistgard-Scherer says. “I would get myself up early, make a hot breakfast, and say, ‘OK, you guys, Mom’s gotta go to school,’ and I would leave for my school and the two of them would ride their bikes together to theirs.”
Seven years later finds her working as a clinical esthetician and medical assistant at Hayes Valley Medical and Esthetics, a career she balances with time spent on her own company, Sprig and Glow, a website and blog dedicated to wellness, beauty and coaching clients toward healthy skin.
Her advice to those looking to make a change? “Do it now. Life is short. Time flies by. And the one thing we can’t get back is our time.” But we might find surprises: along with a reinvigorated career, Quistgard-Scherer has regained 75 percent of her facial mobility.
Former Occupation: Financial Services
Current Occupation: Crime Scene Investigator
The Great Recession marked a proverbial — and unwanted — fork in many career paths. But for Edward Gamble, the ensuing road-less- traveled delivered him into a far more fulfilling reality.
Gamble had been working in money jobs for decades, first as a branch manager and a credit analyst in the banking industry, then moving to mortgage for 17 years with positions at lauded outfits like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In 2008, Gamble was a wholesale rep for JPMorgan Chase & Co. — until he wasn’t.
“I took a job as a sales rep for a company for a little while, but I wasn’t happy there,” he adds. “I was talking to a friend who was a police officer in San Francisco, and he was like, ‘Why don’t you try this?’ ”
And so Gamble applied to the San Francisco Police Department, after which it immediately shut down hiring for three years. But as a means of getting his foot in the door, Gamble opted to work as a police services aide (“Those are the people at the window who take reports about your stolen wallet and that kind of stuff”) for the interim.
Finally, in 2012, at age 49, Gamble was accepted into the academy.
“I was doing push-ups and sprints with 21-year-olds,” Gamble says. “From there, I went through field training, probation, got assigned to a station. I went to another station; then I got the opportunity to become a crime scene investigator, and I jumped on it.” Gamble has now been in CSI for more than two years and is about to be certified in that role. “I feel like I make a difference, if not daily, on a weekly basis.”
Former Occupation: Startup CEO
Current Occupation: Co-Creator of Kikoko
For Jennifer Chapin, coloring outside the lines has long been a natural way of life — but even she didn’t anticipate a career in cannabis. Chapin is the co-creator of Kikoko, a line of cannabis-infused teas — each bag precision-dosed to pharmaceutical standards — which she founded alongside friend and business partner Amanda Jones.
“We set out with a very audacious goal: to honor Jan and help our girlfriends, and millions of other women, get off their pharmaceuticals,” she says. Jan was a mutual friend of the co-founders, and her battle with cancer inspired Kikoko; while her prescribed doses of medical-grade cannabis were effective, they came with a high that was often debilitating. “Jan planted the seed and also got me up a pretty steep learning curve,” Chapin says.
But Chapin’s true professional pivot came in early 2015, when the then-51-year-old set aside a self-funded startup called Mindful Play Media to dive headfirst into the marijuana industry. MPM was just the latest venture in a winding career path, which included the creation of an events company, a gaming company and Cynthia’s Sisters — an organization with aims to educate female lawyers in the Democratic Republic of Congo — along with providing career consultations for women.
“One life lesson I’ve learned is to be flexible,” Chapin says. “I had no intention of going into the cannabis industry, but the more I learned, I just realized that we could be part of destigmatizing this plant, helping people recognize it as the powerful medicine that it is.”
Today, Kikoko offers four specialized teas, each crafted to meld herbal remedies with varied dosages of THC and CBD (cannabidiol). The company’s website brims with information, detailed research and answers to just about any relevant question.
“I’m so grateful that I’ve had this opportunity to create this company with Amanda, and to exercise all the things I’ve studied and I’ve tried to teach,” Chapin says. “I feel like it’s all coming together now, and it’s just a magical time. It’s a gift coming true.”
This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Reinvention”.