Carol Patterson never pictured her life as an accountant.
She had dreamed of being a forest ranger — at least until someone told her she wasn’t so outdoorsy and studying bugs might not be her forte.
So she instead followed a path of business and economics, and before long had landed a job in Calgary’s thriving oil and gas sector.
The founder of eco-tourism consulting firm Kalahari Management and five-time author, Patterson now looks back and laughs as she prepares to teach a one-day seminar April 29 through the University of Calgary for women looking to make a personal or professional life change.
“I discovered there were a lot of people interested in what I have done. It’s not like I had a lot of money or won American Idol,” said Patterson. “I am just like anyone else.”
What Patterson did have was an epiphany she wanted more out of life.
After volunteering with the Calgary Zoo and using day-job earnings toward her pilot’s licence, she began flying zoo animals across the province in her off-time.
It was around this time she first ventured to Africa, discovering a new world and her desire to pursue a rather unconventional lifestyle.
“I started having more fun on my evenings and weekends than my day job,” she notes of her move to leave oil and gas to start her own eco-tourism consulting company in 1991.
The Road Less Travelled: Finding Unconventional Work/Life Situations workshop will appeal to women in their 30s, 40s and 50s, looking to “dust off their dreams,” said Patterson.
“It’s for some people with a little life experience. I think there’s a whole generation of people who have been working hard and they’re pooped.”
While this workshop — which vows strategies for change, where to find support, ways to make money and love what you do, and assessing risks — is just for the ladies, Patterson says she often gets request from men looking for similar career advice.
But the 2008 Woman of Vision award recipient and frequent public speaker can relate to pressures women face. “I think the biggest thing is having the confidence, and I know I sometimes thought people would think I was crazy.”
Patterson hopes the seminar will inspire participants, whatever their goals. “Hopefully they will come away with some ideas and a plan. Sometimes people wait and wait until the time is ‘right’ just getting more unhappy.”
Lunch is included in the cost of the eight-hour BUS 164 course ($325 after March 29).