The Value of Experience vs Ageism

Catherine Palin-Brinkworth is a well-respected business mentor and coach who understands the value of experience and freely shares the lessons she has learnt from vast business (and life) experience with her clients.

Yet when 17 year old Catherine Hart turned down a University scholarship so she could get a job, “wear lipstick and go out with boys” she could never have imagined the path that life would take her.

Choosing experience over education…but always learning

Catherine didn’t want to keep studying at that stage of her life. Yet her life has been a life of learning, cultivating her knowledge and sharing her wisdom and experience to help others.

Through her office job she learnt how business works.  This paved the way to accountancy studies and further work opportunities.  National sales and marketing management roles gave her many insights into that most fundamental core skill  – leadership. This has been the basis of her work ever since.  She values the lessons gained from experience and applies those lessons to her clients’ businesses, with great results.

Unhappy times led to a successful business career

Just a month after her son was born Catherine’s then-husband lost his job.  Her employer asked her to return to work immediately. Catherine did so while her husband looked for work.   To ensure that her baby was well cared for, Catherine hired a young nanny who cared for the child, but unfortunately also cared for the husband!  So Catherine found herself juggling life as a single mother with a young child, demanding work and conflicting emotions.

During this time she felt guilt at not being the perfect stay-at-home playgroup mother. She felt that friends and acquaintances were judging her choice to work and put her young son in childcare.

So that she could spend more time with her son Catherine started her first business as a consultant. Initially she offered the same services she had been providing through her employer.  This evolved into a successful business with three arms – consulting, speaking and training.  Many business lessons were learnt during those years.  Over the years she also served terms as National and International President of two major organizations.

Then life struck another blow, with a diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Despite being told she only had 18 months to live she bounced back. Within a few years she was as busy as ever with her work.  Just last year Catherine experienced another serious illness but came out of that with the same determination to keep on contributing to the world of business.


Catherine likens the societal disapproval she experienced as a working mother to the ageist reaction she sometimes gets now as an older woman who chooses to continue working in her own business.  People question why she doesn’t retire to do what she wants to do.  The reality is that her work is exactly what she wants to do.

She has always loved the flexibility and freedom that being her own boss has given her.  This continues to be important as she navigates changes in her business now. She is adapting it to suit a less demanding lifestyle.  However she is still helping others through authoring courses, speaking, coaching and mentoring.

Ageism can be very undermining. Catherine first encountered ageist attitudes a few years ago. An agent for a speaker’s bureau told her bluntly that she was too old and should give up.  Another speaker she knew was told that she should have a facelift if she wanted any more work.

Great value in sharing experience with others

This caused her to question her decision to keep on working.  Yet Catherine’s passion for helping others has inspired her to continue with her work. It’s her mission to share her wisdom gained through experience to help people and their businesses achieve their full potential.

Despite the tough battles she has fought, or maybe because of them, her passion for her work remains.  Because of this her experience and wisdom has helped many people to achieve their own business dreams.

The value of experience demonstrated by CPB

Read more stories of Silver Sages living interesting lives.


Jenni Proctor