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Apr 25


Terry O'Connor

Why I built The Brass

career transition

From "Golden Girls" to advocacy.

Ten years ago, while walking through my office at a big tech company in Silicon Valley, I overheard someone refer to three older female coworkers as the Golden Girls (a 1985 comedy series about older women). I was one of the three. First, I chuckled because I love a good comedy. But then, insecurity set in. I started to wonder why three “older” women in the workplace stood out in the first place. Why weren’t there more of us? Were older women being fired or pushed out due to their age? It made me question whether I needed to hide my age to keep thriving in my tech recruiting career and whether other women felt the need to do the same. If that was the case, being one of the “Golden Girls” was certainly no laughing matter.

Credit: Disney+

My passion project:

This offhanded and seemingly innocuous comment sparked my curiosity on the topic of ageism in the US, especially for women who have a double hurdle to jump – age and gender. 

I researched the societal, cultural, and economic trends for women in the mid-to-late stages of their careers. I read hundreds of articles and many books about the aging population, ageism in tech, the longevity economy, women and aging, female entrepreneurs over 50, and successful corporate women in the mid-to-late stages of their careers. 

What I learned:

A majority of women aged 50+ experience discrimination regularly.

Source: Mirror/Mirror: AARP Survey of Women's Reflections on Beauty, Age, and Media

AARP's Mirror/Mirror survey revealed some of the career-related bias against women such as being passed over for promotions and overlooked to leading important projects that would advance their careers.

I believe women in mid-to-late career bring a wealth of skills to the workplace that are crucial for organizational success. We have deep industry knowledge and experiences that are invaluable for mentoring younger generations. We possess critical leadership attributes like strong communication and problem solving skills, pattern matching and empathy.

Bucking norms is my norm

I was determined to reshape the narrative around aging in the workplace, especially in the tech sphere – a world I was intimately familiar with. It had become obvious to me that to help women make progress, they needed to be empowered with the confidence and agency to shape their own careers.

It always starts with a white board and good coffee.

I decided to embark on the journey of defining The Brass in 2023, to give women a strong point of view, framework, inspiration and a community that can support the career path they really want.

Teaming up with Veronique Lafargue, the founder boutique marketing agency, Maison Lafargue, we shaped a plan that would ensure that The Brass would be no ordinary career coaching platform.

Our vision for The Brass is to:

  • challenge the status quo.
  • create intergenerational change.
  • joyfully and positively contribute to women's progress.
Brainstorming with my Marketing Advisor, Veronique Lafargue

We know a big goal needs to be supported by tangible action, after all I know you can't run a marathon if you haven't put in the training miles. This is why we decided to create a set of services that could support every women, from free workshops, to cohort-based sessions and 1:1 coaching.

Maven is our platform of choice for the cohort-base live classes, and this has been an incredibly fulfilling experience. Live cohort-based learning taps into the power of collaboration, real-time interaction, and community supporting each learner's growth. From a one coaching client wanting to create multiple income streams outside of her successful corporate tech career, to another student looking to diversify her career portfolio into an adjacent role, we serve a diverse group of incredible women on their career transition journeys. (see our testimonials).

Changing the narrative is also about changing the optics.

If you search for photos of mid-to-late career women, you will probably find women with white hair doing yoga.

Our vision for mid-to-late career women couldn't be different.

The Brass woman is ...

  • a bold and courageous innovator.
  • an inclusive and selfless community builder.
  • a joyful mentor to future generations.

Buying into these stereotypes and the idea that we are less valuable as we age prevents women from doing something bold with their careers. To change the world's view of mid-to-late-stage career women, we needed a brand that could replace the language and optics around ageism, challenge perceptions about competing with younger workers, and create a new vocabulary for late-stage careers.

Branding The Brass

Together with female-founded Pact Studio, we designed a brand that captures the boldness of our platform. Inspired by the idea of women lifting each other up and challenging ageism in the workplace, we came up with a name that would celebrate women banding together, getting loud, and being a force that’s hard to ignore: The Brass. The voice is confident and sassy. The identity is edgy, but also editorial and mature. It plays with scale and taking-up space on purpose. We want The Brass to be heard loud and clear, and not shy away or minimize anything. The logo is dynamic, with things breaking through, breaking boundaries, and breaking the status quo.

Take a look at the Pact Studio Case Study for an in-depth look at The Brass brand from their point of view.

We’re The Brass. The Badass Brass. The women with decades of experience under our belts and innate knowledge to share. We think ageism blows, so we’re here to remind the world that when it comes down to it, experience is everything. We’re sharp, strong, hella polished, and only getting brighter with age. We’ve earned the right to buck norms and do the work that works for us. Join our band of women who are truly the force in the workforce, and design the career you really want.

“only getting brighter with age”

Our dream is to live in a world where mid-to-late-stage career women are valued and respected for their wisdom, experience and ongoing contributions to the workplace, in business and in society. We are here for you! Let us help you design a career that works for you.