Variety is the spice of life

This is a blog about portfolio careers by Rachel Brushfield, The Talent Liberator from Energise – The Talent Liberation Company.


I have been running my own business Energise for over 24 years and have always enjoyed variety. In 2011, I was lucky to read the book ‘The Shift’ by Lynda Gratton, a Professor at London Business School about changing work trends and what the world of work would be like in 2020.

I am so glad that I did, because having implemented its recommendations myself, I am now in a good position to help people at this challenging time in the world, with Covid-19 having accelerated a decade of change into 1 year.

What is a portfolio career?

A portfolio career is work/a career made up of multiple components, for example freelance work, a contract, a part time job, non-executive directorships, trustee and volunteering, rather than just having 1 job or running 1 business.

As a metaphor, a portfolio career is like choosing Dim Sum or Tapas in a restaurant, a variety of different dishes, rather than just one single main dish, giving you a variety of flavours and textures and a moreish combination.

Why are portfolio careers growing?

Portfolio careers have been growing for a while, because of 2 growing segments:

· The ‘want a portfolio career’ market – pre-retirees wanting a gentle ‘slope’ rather than a steep ‘cliff’ to retirement, and millennials (young workers) who have different career aspirations to previous generations.

· The ‘need a portfolio career’ market – this has grown massively because of the impact of Covid-19 on both the employed and self-employed sectors; shrinking markets, forced career change, reduced consultancy projects with

greater competition, more people becoming self-employed, and a raised ‘bar’ of the standard required to secure a job or project.

How do portfolio careers vary?

Portfolio careers have been around for centuries – think holiday destinations with seasonal tourism, who need a different way of earning a living for the rest of the year.

Portfolio careers vary a lot, and they also change a lot!

They can be segmented into:

· Similar e.g. associate work with different companies

· Contrasting e.g. leadership coach and historical author

· Synergistic e.g. bee-keeper and dentist

A portfolio career isn’t the right career choice for everyone, so thinking it through carefully is essential. Working with an experienced career coach, specialising in portfolio careers can be invaluable.

A portfolio career is like a kaleidoscope.

You can adjust it and create new work patterns that suit you, as your needs change, and market trends shift.

Everyone is unique and so is each portfolio career!

What are the benefits of a portfolio career?

Benefits include:

· Variety

· More fulfilment and flexibility

· Constant learning

· Increased career agility

· Enhanced career resilience

· A future-proof career

· Reducing your career risk

What are the drawbacks of a portfolio career?

Drawbacks include:

· Constant change

· Less certainty and security than a traditional career

· Need to focus on trends and take stock regularly

· Must embrace marketing and networking

· Need to be super-organised

A portfolio career is like having a ‘safety net’

Is it really a good idea to put all your career ‘eggs in one basket’ in an uncertain world?

What next?

To receive a free Energise report: ‘Discover Portfolio Careers’ including a free 15-question suitability questionnaire and/or to arrange your free 20-minute no-obligation meeting to explore whether a portfolio career is right for you, get in touch with Rachel Brushfield using this link:

Recommended reading

Lynda Gratton ‘The Shift’

Andrew J Scott + Lynda Gratton ‘The 100 year life’

Andrew J Scott and Lynda Gratton ‘The new long life’

More about Energise

View Rachel Brushfield’s LinkedIn profile:

Rachel’s portfolio career

Inspiring Portfolio Careers


Energise LLClub – Inspiring Portfolio Careers for Women Lawyers.

PWHub – Inspiring Professional Women – a network for senior employed women, all sectors, with quarterly CPD style events. Rachel is a co-founder.

Share your love