Meet the Perennials - Interview with Vince Hiscox and what purpose means to someone who's been working since 13!

Priyanka Gothi

October, 10 2019, 3:44 PM

In this series, we meet inspiring over-50s who are re-defining the way we look at age. This time, we spoke to Hong Kong based Vincent Hiscox who was a teacher before becoming a consultant and finally a Health Coach.  

Q.1 Briefly share with us with your background. Where you grew up and what your childhood was like:

I grew up in the UK on the outskirts of an industrial town in South Wales called Newport, with a population of around 100k people. A part of the baby boomer generation. Born in 1950 to a close knit working-class family with many aunties, uncles and countless cousins. I still remember shopping as a small boy with a ration book but I have memories of always having enough. There were virtually no cars on the roads and as a 5 year old I could walk with my friends to school. As a teenager I lived through the prosperity growth of the 1960s and I did odd jobs to earn my own
“pocket money” and spent it on clothes and haircuts of the 60’s youth culture. At school always hardworking, studious and a non-conformist with a small c .

Q2. How old are you now and what are you currently doing?

I am 68 years old and I do Consultancy (Sales & Marketing) for SMEs in HK and SZ and I am pivoting into Health Coaching For Mid-Life Businessmen that want to get “Back
in Shape”

Q3. For the majority of your career, what would you say you have been doing?

I started working as a Maths & Physics teacher and followed this career for almost 15 years, teaching up to scholarship level, including a two-year contract in Jamaica that
was as much holiday as work. Following a Masters degree in Engineering I moved into a career in Semiconductors that lasted almost 30 years.

Q4. What would you describe as the proudest moment of your career?

That’s a hard question I could tell you of the 500m$ I helped to generate during my time working in business development but I would say my proudest moment was when one of my former pupils who had announced to me “I can’t do Maths – never could and never will” passed her GCSE Maths with a grade 1 and came and thanked me and informed me she was off to college to learn accountancy.

Q5. What has been the turning point in your career that led you to explore other avenues?

There have been several pivotal moments in my career and the move to be a health coach is driven by being able to give back. I am driven to help people to help themselves.

Q6. When not at work, what brings you joy? Could be hobbies or passions in life? What do you most enjoy about them?

I have been passionate about participating in sport all my life, from the age of 10 when I joined my first school team until the present time where I rode in July one
stage of the Tour de France bicycle race with around 15k other competitors.

Q7. Does it bother you that you are now older? When does it bother you the most?

It doesn’t bother me so much that I am older. Of course there are negatives like being rejected for a job because you are considered to be too old but there are also some positives, like travelling cheaply on the MTR and jumping the queue at the Chinese border, for example.

Q8. Tell me a time in your life when you looked for a job after you turned 60. What was that experience like?

Inside my old company I moved to Hong Kong Kong when I was 60 I changed my job, my location and the organization I worked in. I took on a team of 15 people covering a geography of China, India, Taiwan and SE Asia. The experience was very positive for me, I took on more responsibility and a challenging role.

Q9. What advice would you give to those who are older and exploring second careers?

This is a complex question and there is no one answer that fits for everybody. It’s an all depends answer. Firstly don’t jump ship before you have something that fits your requirements and it is “in the bag” not just a promise. Consider carefully what you are leaving behind versus what you are gaining. If you are forced to change if you can find something that matches your expertise and what you are passionate about you increase the odds in your favour. Jumping ship with no safety net can work but there are no guarantees.

Q10. What keeps you motivated to stay productive?

I got my first job when I was thirteen delivering newspapers and I have had a “job” ever since. Having a sense of purpose has a big impact on your health. Living without purpose has been shown to be equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Of course, there are several ways to have a purposeful life. Myself I enjoy and I am motivated by the challenge, the mental stimulation, the companionship and learning new things.

Q11. Which aspect of work gives you the most joy? (Salary, designation, team, purpose etc) and why?

The joy in working for me comes from people, colleagues, partners, teams, customers, third parties even competitors solving problems together, finding solutions to complex problems, celebrating the wins and offering the commiserations for the losses. Above all the companionship.

Q12. How would you say your approach to work has changed since you first landed a job?

This is a big question and I will try to keep it brief. My first job was in school in a poor working-class area of the East End of London where my first priority was survival.
Keeping control of 35 plus pupils at a time many of which had no desire to be at school and were just “doing time” until they could finish at 15 years old and go and find a job. The learning curve was sharp and preparation and class engagement had to be mastered quickly.

Fortunately, every year I was allocated new classes so the opportunity to have a fresh start was a real bonus. Moving from Education to Microelectronics was like “chalk and cheese” above all the was the freedom to do your work as and when you wanted to without the constraints of a timetable and a classroom full of pupils for whom you were fully responsible. Of course, there are other constraints and new deliverables. Working in teams on complex problems where the solution was less obvious and the timescales could run into years, you have to learn to take a big picture approach.

Q13. What advice would you give to your 30-year-old self to prepare for a 100-year life?

As a thirty-year-old I was a vegetarian into wholefoods and exercise running marathons and cycling to and from work so relatively fit and healthy. The stresses and strains of renovating an old house and starting a family were ever present and I would have advised my 30 year old self to find a way of de-stressing, doing some yoga, learning about meditation, loving kindness and mind-fullness.

Q14. What advice would you give to companies who are not sure if they should hire older talent?

My advice would be to look at the individual and assess them putting the age aside to remove any bias they may place on age. Then as a second pass review they should consider what would be the advantages and disadvantages that may be attributed to age. In many job requirements a mature candidate can have positive attributes, e.g. greater experience, less likely to job hop, a stronger more useful personal network, less family constraints, less limitations on travel for business trips……

Q15. Where can people find out more about you? Here’s where you could share your blog link / Linkedin profile etc.

I am on LinkedIn as Vincent Hiscox – Health Coach website under development.