I am bringing back my Real Women series, with a few tweaks.  Instead of just talking fashion I’m going to ask some inspiring, interesting and beautiful women some “life after 40” questions, with a bit of fashion thrown in for fun.  The topics will include a wide range of relevant life topics as we progress through our 40s, 50s and beyond.

My first real woman is Pamela Martin.  My BC readers will know Pamela from her 35+ years of bringing the news into our homes.   Pamela was a pioneer for women in broadcasting.  So it was interesting to me that Pamela made such a major career change to become the Director of Outreach for the Office of the BC Premier (Christy Clark).   I know many women in mid life who are re-thinking their professional lives.  That “what will I do when I grow up” question never seems to go away.   So I was thrilled when Pamela agreed to answer a few questions about her experience.

But first I thought I'd share the bio for Pamela, from the Media Release when she and Bill Good stepped down CTV News in 2010.

Martin began her broadcasting career in 1975, co-hosting and producing DAYBREAK on Victoria's CHEK-TV. She joined CKNW in 1976 as their first female beat reporter and a year later moved to BCTV, where she worked as a reporter and producer and became their first female news anchor of a major 6 p.m. newscast. Pamela remained with BCTV until her move to CTV British Columbia in 2001. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2008 National Award by the RTNDA for Best Feature Story for her report on "Kelli's Red Devils." A tireless advocate and philanthropist, Martin has been involved with countless organizations in the Vancouver area. After co-chairing the 2009 United Way Campaign, she now serves on the Board of Directors of Looking Glass Foundation, Face the World Foundation, and Pacific Autism Centre Society. For 18 years, she was a board member for the Vancouver International Film Festival, and has also worked closely with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society, BC AIDS Society, and Variety: Children's Charity Telethon, among many other organizations.


FF40 Question - Tell me about your decision to leave a 35 +year career in broadcasting?   Were you looking for a new challenge or was the opportunity to move into Public Outreach with the provincial government one of those “Right place. Right time.” sort of things?

Pamela - Yes, it was a great career with a number of firsts (first woman reporter at CKNW, first woman to anchor a major 6 pm newscast at BCTV, etc). And being a pioneer is exciting and interesting.  Anchoring 17 days of national Olympic newscasts as host broadcaster for the 2010 games was the highlight for me and it seemed a good time to move on to a new challenge.  I never wanted to be someone that viewers complained about staying too long...”Is she STILL there?”  And 35 years is a long time to be on-air!  I was actually looking forward to slowing down a little, when my colleague Christy Clark decided to run for the BC Liberal party leadership and I couldn’t resist getting into politics. As a journalist, it was essential to be neutral, and I could never get involved in politics in any way.  Suddenly, I was “free” to jump in, so I did. And I believe in her.  Joining the campaign was a “right time, right place” opportunity but taking on the job of Outreach Director for the Premier was a decision that I thought about for awhile.  It isn’t slowing down in any way!  It is very demanding. But it is very interesting and, as I say, I believe in the Premier and what she stands for.  And I want her to succeed, so ultimately, it’s a natural career progression for me.  And I think a good fit.

What factors were part of your consideration - family, work/life balance, new professional challenge, etc?

 Since my family is grown up now, it was mostly a professional decision.  If anything, I have less work/life balance now than before, but I have reached an age where it’s wonderful to feel challenged in your career, to have a new direction.  I think if one does almost any job for many years, it can become almost routine.  So I feel fortunate to have this new stimulation and challenge.

The primary factor that I considered was ...  Is this what I want to be doing every day?  Does this work have meaning for me and can I make a contribution? 

What has been the biggest benefit to you personally from making the switch?

The biggest benefit is using skills I already had in new ways, learning new ways of approaching a problem and solving it. I think learning something new is always a great benefit and keeps your brain growing!   I’ve also met many people that I have really enjoyed getting to know: people in politics, business, ethnic groups, women’s groups, etc.  As a reporter, I also reached into the greater community to make connections but usually in pursuit of a story, so it wasn’t the same.

What do you miss, if anything, about being in broadcasting?

By far, the thing I miss most is telling stories.  Shooting, writing and producing stories on video is incredibly creative and I would like to continue doing that.

What advice do you have for other women in the middle of their lives who are looking to make a significant professional shift?

I encourage all women to not be afraid of change, to allow themselves to take risks – healthy, calculated risks—because it’s the best way to discover so many things about yourself.  Life can be an adventure but I believe you have to go after it; you can’t just wait for those adventures to find you!

I can imagine your role in Public Outreach with the BC Liberal Party keeps you very busy.  Do you have any specific tactics for living a healthy life and reducing stress?

I try to go to Pilates class to at least stay flexible and not get stiff, which leads to aches and pains.  I say try, because my schedule is very unpredictable so it’s hard.  But physical exercise is the key to beating stress.

Switching it up a bit… now a few fun fashion questions.   Most women in BC are familiar with your professional style, as we watched you on our TVs for years.  But tell me about your personal style.  How would you describe your weekend style?

Most of my hobbies are sports related...so I am pretty much a Lululemon girl on weekends.  That, and if I’m shopping downtown its skinny jeans, flat shoes and blazers.  I love to dress up for events, but when I’m off, I like to relax. 

  • Update - Check out this great shot of Pamela on Facebook in hip party attire from the Vancouver Mom Blogger Party at the Museum of Vancouver.

If you had to save ONE wardrobe item in a fire what would it be?

Special clothes that my children wore.  My current favorite pair of Valentino shoes, which are extremely comfortable and beautiful.  Oh, that’s more than one!

 If you had the opportunity to treat yourself to one BIG ticket fashion item - clothes, shoes, accessories, jewellery, etc -  what would it be?

 Some kind of expensive jewellery.

Finally, I’ve been talking a lot about Owning Our Beauty on my blog lately.  As someone who has been in the public sphere for most of her career I would love to hear your perspective on the public’s expectations of your external beauty.  Has it changed over the years?  How do you approach accepting yourself as beautiful as you are… and not trying to meet the media’s expectations?

The public is often very opinionated about what it expects (especially about hair) but it’s also all over the map, so my attitude is you just have to be who you are and look the way that you like, the way that pleases you.  Over the years, I learned to let any criticism roll off my back. Now to be honest, I do fight signs of aging and probably always will.  But I also try to accept things which aren’t fixable...or which require too much work, such as a flabby neck and chin!  I’m only willing to go so far--- and major surgery, like a facelift, or even cheek implants and lip implants are not for me.   I’ve seen too many bad examples and I don’t like pain!     

Thanks again to Pamela for taking the time to answer my questions (delivered via email).  And congratulations to her on the birth of her first Grandchild.

And I couldn't resist this great shot of Pamela from 1986, in another pink suit.

Pamela with Tony Parsons at the Expo 1986 Studio.

Photos are from here and here.

Have any of you had a mid life career change?