Inspirational Woman: Lyndsey Simpson | Founder & CEO, 55/Redefined

Lyndsey Simpson, Founder and CEO, 55_Redefined

Lyndsey Simpson is the founder and CEO of 55/Redefined, an organisation that connects the UK’s active over 50s with tailored products, services and advice spanning jobs, finance, legal and lifestyle.

55/Redefined’s mission is to end ageism – in both workplaces and society – and add ten productive years to life, while supporting over-50s to get exactly what they want out of life.

Recognising a gap in the market for a brand that answers the call of the ‘bet-your-ass-I-can’ over 50s, Lyndsey set up 55/Redefined to fly the flag for those who may be getting older, but have no intention of slowing down.

Lyndsey has been recognised as one of the UK’s Top 35 Business Women by Management Today and The Sunday Times, and is listed among ‘UK’s 50 Most Inspirational Female Entrepreneurs’ by FreeOfficeFinder.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

Last year, after recognising a gap in the market for a brand that answers the call of the energetic, passionate ‘bet-your-ass-I-can’ over 50s who have no intention of retiring or ‘slowing down’, I founded 55/Redefined.

55/Redefined is a national technology platform connecting the UK’s active over 50s with tailored products, services and advice spanning jobs, finance, legal and lifestyle. As founder and CEO, I spearhead our mission to stamp out ageism and to add ten productive years to life.

Our platform comprises three distinct brands: Life/Redefined, Work/Redefined and Jobs/Redefined. It also offers services to employers through its B2B employer focused platform, Work/Redefined, offering tools and strategy including Age Inclusive Accreditation to enable organisations to become the employer of choice for the over 50s and ensure equal opportunities for all, regardless of age.

In September 2021, we launched our landmark study, Shut Out, Forced Out and Overlooked, which revealed the scale and severity of ageism in UK workplaces – for this reason, our Age Inclusive Accreditation is one of our key services and a route to creating positive change for over 50s workers, which we have delivered to Boots, Dentsu, ITV and Hargreaves Lansdown, among others.

Growing up surrounded by a family of business owners, including my father’s post office, I have been entrepreneurial from an early age and always had an ambition to run a large business.

Outside of 55/Redefined, I’m a board advisor, investor and E2E ambassador, and co-own the Copper House Bar & Brasserie in Berkhamsted with my husband.

Before launching 55/Redefined, I previously spent 13 years as CEO of The Curve Group, leading the business to become the UK’s largest privately owned recruitment and HR company, and my early background was in banking.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I remember sitting in my Year 13 Business Studies class and knowing that starting successful businesses was what I wanted to do. Reading Trouble Shooter by H Jones inspired me to want to turn under-performing companies around, and becoming a management consultant to help companies solve problems was initially what I was interested in.

My goal was, essentially, to become an expert on all aspects and functions of a business. Being more of a ‘generalist’ and looking at overall strategies, as opposed to specialising is not a typical career route – but the desire to learn is what drove me.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

In my professional life, I was turned down for a training scheme at 18 and told management was ‘not my thing’. That was a real challenge emotionally, and set me on a path instead to university and a job offer at Barclays prior to graduating.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

In my role at The Curve Group, I achieved 95 per cent revenue and worked hard to keep on three-quarters of the team through the recession.

I also secured the biggest corporate contract at Curve, bringing £2m in turnover against some of the world’s biggest companies. It was a real ‘David and Goliath’ moment for me. We were able to hire 2,000 people in just eight weeks thanks to that one contract – it really shows that SMEs can make a difference and prioritise big clients, compared to larger agencies.

On a personal level, I am always proud that I have never lost a friend and never made an enemy in business. We recently worked with Crowdcube and a team of people that I had worked with years ago – it’s always important to remember where you came from, who supported you and to give back where you can.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

You can’t beat a market maker. Listening to what the market wants, constantly evolving and being adaptable to change is what makes a successful business. As a leader, if you aren’t listening to the market and to your customers, you won’t be successful – it’s as simple as that.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Both being mentored and mentoring others have been key aspects of my career throughout many different phases.

55/Redefined, as an example, is my first business with external funding. We’ve raised £1.4 million from both private and public investment, and understanding this new market through mentors has been the best way to learn.

Because I have found mentoring so valuable and I want to give back, I’ll always reply to LinkedIn messages or requests for advice from wider networks. There’s so much you can learn from the people you mentor, and understanding new perspectives is key. Business, and successful business in particular, is about paying it forward and giving back where you can.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I’d like finance to become more accessible to female entrepreneurs. There’s a visible lack of funding for females; less than two per cent of investment goes to female founded businesses – a horrifying statistic! Hiring more women to make decisions on investment will help to level the playing field.

One of the few times I have experienced sexism in business is when I stand in front of investors to pitch. In my experience, I have been expected, as a female founder, to give up more equity than male founders – which in 2022, is really shocking. This is just one of the barriers that female founders face.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

The difficulty in securing funding as a female founder has fostered a spirit of ‘seek forgiveness not permission’. With barriers in business for women still existing, I truly believe this is the only way to overcome this.

I would also say don’t be afraid of blame culture – know your skills and your limits and do your best.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

The next challenge for me is to secure the next round of funding for 55/Redefined, to allow us to continue in our mission to eradicate ageism and add ten productive years to life. Retirement doesn’t always equal happiness – instead, I want to raise the money to make an impact on a global scale for over 50s to get back into the workplace. Having a positive impact is the goal.

We will soon be launching our new report, The Unretirement Uprising, which surveyed more than 4000 over-50s to take an in-depth look at their experiences in the workplace and plans for the future, while measuring the growing appetite for unretirement to be made an accessible choice.

A lot of people think you can’t be profitable and make a social impact, but these are not mutually exclusive. 55/Redefined is a private commercial entity and not a charity – no one is doing what we’re doing.

Gendered ageism is a particular challenge. Although the gender pay gap is an issue that affects every working-age group, women over the age of 50 are disproportionately disadvantaged. For full-time employees aged 50-59, the gender pay gap was 12.3 per cent in 2021, compared to the gap for those aged 22 – 29 at 0.9 per cent.

Tackling gendered ageism is a key focus for us in our mission as we work to end age discrimination in UK workplaces and in society.

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