Career planning with flexibility: KCL Alumna Poppy’s portfolio career journey!

Today we’re featuring an exciting case study from Poppy, a King’s alumna whose portfolio career is an impressive feat – not to mention while being a full-time parent! What’s it like following life’s opportunities along and build success towards diverse career interests?

Image of glasses on top of a pile of books
Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash
Tell us a little about your time at King’s (any favourite moments?) 

I studied English Literature and Language between 2000 – 2003. My favourite moment – there were so many – but I remember finding out I’d got the lead role in the musical, Crazy for You, from my first ever audition. I was on the Strand and suddenly I felt as if a whole new world had opened up in front of me.

What were your next steps after King’s?

I’ve never been particularly career-focused – I think if you’re a creative person it’s so much harder to choose a career and stick to it. The options for an English degree didn’t seem particularly inspiring to me: basically publishing, teaching or journalism. I vaguely thought journalism but did absolutely nothing about it, unlike other students who wrote for the Student magazine and got work experience.

On leaving King’s I decided to do an MA in Acting Musical Theatre (Jazz Hands) at Central, or as it’s now called, The ROYAL Central School of Speech and Drama. I had loved being part of KCMTS, and had starred in three productions, as well as performed in the Gilbert & Sullivan society, and produced a show too. It felt like the right action because it was something I loved to do, but also cunningly delayed my having to make any decisions on getting a job.


Image of a woman holding a mug that reads "like a boss"

How did starting a family affect your decision-making about your next steps?

I had my son when I was 23, which is basically like a child these days. I was married and it just happened…I had been for a couple of auditions after my MA but had ended up with a temping job at Sotheby’s, which I had started to really enjoy. When I had my son I stopped working as I wanted to look after him myself. We settled into what is now a very traditional set up of me being the full-time mother, and my husband going out to work. Staying home meant that my creative side really came to the fore – although there is a lot of drudgery and repetition, there is also magic – having children was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.


It’s great to see living examples like Poppy’s about how career journeys sometimes require us to be flexible. Sometimes, plans change and that’s okay! Wherever you are on your career journey, changing plans is an opportunity for reflection, growth and new ventures!


How did you keep your career ideas going?

I always kept up a bit of writing or singing – it really made a difference in how I felt as a person. When the kids were young I did an online diploma in journalism with the London School of Journalism, which gave me confidence. I wrote for an organisation called ‘Mothers at Home Matter’ and edited their newsletters for a while. I wrote a parenting blog (there weren’t as many back then!) detailing my life as a stay-at-home mother. I also started a singing group with two other friends called ‘The Frockettes’. We sang a cappella and had some great gigs, singing at Kensington Palace, and at a festival in Sardinia!

helium balloons against a clear blue sky
Photo by Andreas Weiland on Unsplash


Tell us about your portfolio career now! What’s it like, being self-employed and juggling home, work and family? 

I’m now an Iyengar yoga teacher and yoga writer. The singing also gets the odd outlet, and the Christmas before last I appeared in the dual role of ‘Evil Stepmother/Fairy godmother’ in an originally-written local panto. Yoga teaching is a fabulous career and works so well in conjunction with writing about it. I keep learning new things about yoga – there’s always more to learn.

Being self-employed is a whole new adventure and means that I have to be really disciplined about keeping track of my accounts. Part of my commitment to my own business is having regular life coaching sessions, which makes a huge difference, as when I’m struggling to stay focused on my goals I’ve got a way of getting back on track.


hopscotch tiles
Photo by Michel Porro on Unsplash
Do you know what your next steps will be?

I will definitely carry on with the yoga. I found yoga ten years ago when my daughter started nursery, and it was a perfect fit for me. There is still so far to go, and it’s a lifetime of learning. I’ve been writing for YogaLondon as a regular writer for over four years now and I’ll probably carry on as long as they’ll have me – I can do it from home in my own time, and I get paid for writing and researching a topic I’m endlessly interested in. I hope to do a bit more singing. The Frockettes have now scattered around England, which makes gigs much harder, but I hope to find an outlet – possibly yoga and singing retreats? Who knows! So far life and being open to opportunities have provided me with ways to be useful and busy, and hopefully, that will continue.





Written by Poppy Pickles

Edited by Laura Patari