Gibraltar: Never Too Young Or Too Old

Last Updated: 30 November 2016
Article by Nigel Feetham

Typically, people see their careers from start to finish with little or no change beyond the usual aspirations (in the case of accountants or lawyers, this might be partnership). Others move from one area of expertise to another, they reinvent themselves or change roles or responsibilities. But change is never easy, especially for professionals. Most tend to find a comfort zone and operate within it. Others require constant challenge and find it difficult to work without one.

Some executives will very successfully do the same job throughout their career and will never seek to change. Nor would they see a need to do so. But others will find a career changing moment (for better or for worse) at some point in their lives. This could arise for different reasons. It could be as a result of an unexpected opportunity (sometimes even pure luck), a change in the legal/regulatory/business landscape, personal circumstances, or even simply, ambition. Such a career changing moment does not necessarily mean a change of job. It could be, in the case of a manager, a change of role or responsibility, or in the case of a lawyer or accountant, a progression from one area of specialisation to another. Sometimes even a single encounter (or particular work experience) could make the difference.

Throughout my own career I have met many professionals (including senior executives), from different backgrounds and from varied careers. The ones I have found most successful are those that were prepared to take bold decisions that then tended to map out their career trajectory. My own experience shows that successful careers usually have 5 year cycles. In other words, one can be at the top of one's game for 5 years before things start to change. That is when invariably one needs to adapt and find the next challenge or opportunity to stay at the top. Indeed, everything has a cycle. The investment market has a cycle (bull and bear), the insurance market has a cycle (soft and hard), and politicians and governments have a cycle (defined by their own electoral appeal). The key is in knowing when that cycle peaks and responding (not reacting) to it before the competition does.

From all the factors that make a successful career, I see boldness and experience as the most important attributes for career advancement. In the earlier years, one has to necessarily be bold. A young professional has to make himself be seen and heard unless he has the (unlikely) good fortune of a support network around him. As his career path progresses, experience then becomes the overriding factor that tends to drive success. The saying about old pilots and bold pilots comes to mind here.

Interestingly, whilst people in their 50s will normally not see career change as a positive thing, it is probably the time when individuals are most prepared for it should they wish to take that decision. At 50 most executives would have achieved some level of financial security, have older children, and have had the benefit of experience. The risk associated with change is therefore far less of a risk because of that, whilst the potential rewards will usually be much higher.

Of course, it will depend on ambition too. Most people will never contemplate change because in their 50s they might be looking forward to and planning for retirement. Others may actually see their 50s and early 60s as the best (or last) opportunity to advance their career or make serious money. That is where the combination of age and experience can drive success. I have known very successful entrepreneurs who have achieved their success in their 50s and remain so in their 60s and 70s.

One should not be put off by age. One is never too young or too old. Alexander the Great conquered much of the known world as a young man in a 11 year military campaign and he did so with an army he had inherited from his father Philip II. The vanguard of Alexander's army were veterans that had fought in continuous military campaigns for over 30 years by the time Alexander died (aged 32). The ancient sources tell us that many of these men were in their 60s and even 70s by then. They were known as the Silver Shields and Alexander used them decisively to achieve victories in the battlefield. It is not too difficult to see why. The Silver Shields had the experience of fighting in every condition and against any enemy (including the use of war elephants). In the thick of battle where two armies advanced at each other in military formation with spear, shield, sword and grit, experience could make the difference between defeat and victory. Alexander's Silver Shields were never defeated. They were so feared and their loyalty to Alexander unquestionable, that after his death, it was decided to break them down into groups of 3 or 4 and send them out on dangerous missions where their numbers would be dissipated.       

The Silver Shields were not the only famous veterans of ancient warfare. When the fate of Greece hung in the balance following the massive Persian invasion led by King Xerxes, it was the heroic last stand of the 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae that captured the imagination of ancient historians and contemporaries alike. These were not young men but experienced soldiers, all with sons old enough to carry the family responsibilities forward. They were hand-picked by Spartan King Leonidas who himself was aged around 60.

If fortune does favour the bold, one is never too young or too old; in fact, quite the opposite. Boldness is a state of mind. An older professional brings intellectual capital to the job that a younger person may not yet have but the younger person has nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Success also requires focus and judgment. Young Alexander when told by his veteran Macedonian general that he would accept the Persian King's peace offer of half his empire "if I were Alexander", responded "I would too, if I were Parmenion" and continued to conquer the rest. Alexander's mistake, however, was not appreciating where the dividing line between boldness and hubris lay. In the end, he paid a very heavy price - he died young (probably poisoned by one of his battle weary companions), his empire divided between his generals and his family (including his young son and heir) murdered.

This article is dedicated to all the 'Silver Shields', past, present and future.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions