Passion shows no sign of quitting

FIVE years after her youngest daughter completed high school, Victorian Women's Trust executive director Mary Crooks has no intention of retiring any time soon.

FIVE years after her youngest daughter completed high school, Victorian Women's Trust executive director Mary Crooks has no intention of retiring any time soon.

"I feel immensely liberated," says Ms Crooks, 61, who has helmed the women's advocacy and philanthropy organisation for 14 years.

"If you're interested in the kinds of things I'm interested in, you could argue you're still hitting your straps through your 50s and your 60s. I come across women in my job in their 70s and 80s and they just have extraordinary wisdom.

"In my view, there's no chronological point where I'd want to turn the tap off and say, 'that's it, brain stop working'."

Like many baby boomer women, Ms Crooks says her superannuation is "not great", because of the time she spent as primary carer to her two daughters in the mid-1990s after two decades in academia and social policy.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't realise that the longer I keep working, the more [my superannuation] is going to improve but it's not why I'm working."

Many younger women, planning to start families, have told Ms Crooks they worry that it could be the end of their careers if they take time out with young families.

"My advice is to see your life as having enormously productive chapters, so, as the chapter you might spend as a primary carer closes or half-closes, you move on in your 40s and 50s and 60s as a highly creative contributor to your career and workplace."

Older workers shouldn't slow down just because they think it's expected of them, Ms Crooks said.

"Bugger that! Just go with your passion . . . A lot of it is about mindset as well."